Instant Passports

Written by Jared Vincenti
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When you are planning travel outside the country, most travel services recommend planning one to two months in advance in order to get passports and visas in due time. Passport service through the US State Department takes either two or six weeks, although an emergency passport can be issued on shorter notice. However, emergency passports are less and less common thanks to private passport expediters, who can get a passport on about a day's notice for you.

While an emergency passport is a limited-validity passport that expires in a few weeks, a full-validity passport can often be procured on even shorter notice by a private passport expediter. There are over 100 of these companies in the United States, and they are loosely affiliated by the National Association of Passport and Visa Services. These businesses charge a service fee on top of the government fees for passport application, and will get your passport on very short notice.

Passports in a Flash

While you cannot get an instant passport in the sense of getting a passport on the spot, there are passport expediters that guarantee 24 hour service on passport applications (in addition to whatever time it takes for delivery). These are referred to as "instant" passport services, and although it is not spontaneous, 24 hours is lightning fast compared to six weeks standard service.

This service generally costs in the range of about $160 on top of standard application, but for those traveling urgently, it is a small cost to pay compared to canceling travel arrangements. If you have the luxury of planning, it is wise to do so in order to avoid these fees. If you're in a bind, though, they just might save your trip.

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