How to Get a Same Day or Emergency Passport

Passport panic? Here’s how to navigate getting a passport in under 24 hours.


Photo by Levi Ventura/Unsplash

Losing your passport, having it stolen, or realizing it has expired just before a trip can be a stressful experience. The State Department says it takes six to eight weeks for a standard passport application to be fulfilled in normal circumstances. However, due to a pandemic-related backlog, the current wait time for a passport is expected to be between 8 to 11 weeks. Even expedited passports are currently taking five to seven weeks to process.

Fortunately, there are ways to obtain a same-day or emergency passport that can help you get back on track and on your way. It won’t be easy, but it is possible. Provided you meet the criteria.

Here’s what you need to know about getting a passport in under 24 hours.

Can I get a passport in one day?

The short answer is, yes, you can get a passport in one day. But it will take time, patience, and immediate travel plans.

If it’s a life or death situation, apply for an emergency passport

To qualify for an emergency passport, you’ll need a genuinely life-or-death emergency that requires you to travel internationally. Per the Department of State, that includes having an immediate family member (defined as a parent, legal guardian, child, spouse, sibling, or grandparent) who has died, is dying, or has a life-threatening illness or injury. And you’ll need to prove it with a death certificate, a statement from a mortuary, a letter from a hospital, or similar documentation. That document also needs to be in English (or at least it needs to be translated into English).

You’ll then need to go to one of the 26 Regional Passport Agencies scattered throughout the country, which may not be convenient for most people. Those passport agencies are all located in major cities, such as Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, and Philadelphia. It’s a good idea to call the Department of State helpline (1-877-487-2778) to make sure you qualify before traveling. Sometimes, the agent on the helpline can schedule an appointment for you, though if not, all of the agencies offer walk-in appointments. Keep in mind the number of walk-in appointments is limited and varies by location. If you’re able to get an appointment, you’ll also need to have a completed passport application, proof of citizenship (such as a birth certificate or a previously issued U.S. passport), a valid government-issued photo ID (such as a driver’s license), a passport photo, and proof of immediate international travel plans.

If you don’t have a life-or-death emergency, use Urgent Travel service

If you don’t have a life-or-death emergency, there’s still a way to get a passport in one day. If you’ve already applied for a passport, but it hasn’t arrived in the mail, and your international travel is scheduled within five calendar days, you can use the Urgent Travel service. While it’s not technically an emergency passport, it is generally processed the same day. For this, you’ll need to make an appointment with a passport agency by calling 1-877-487-2778. This service is also available for those without a passport (and who aren’t currently waiting on an application to be processed) and have international travel planned within 14 days.

Last ditch effort: ask your elected member of congress to help

Another option is getting your elected member of Congress to help—some representatives, like Dianne Feinstein and Mike Crapo, share this shortcut on their websites, though success may vary.

How to speed up a passport application

If you have a few weeks and would prefer to put the task into professional hands, you might also consider using an expedited passport service.

Third-party expediter services, such as ItsEasy Passport & Visa Service or RushMyPassport, can assist with rushing your passport application. In a matter of days, they can submit your paperwork on your behalf, pick up your passport, and get it back to you when it’s ready. They charge an additional fee (on top of the standard passport application fee and expedited passport service fee). Still, they can often help navigate the ins and outs of the expediting process.

The fastest turnaround time offers is one week for $799 or a two-week option for $599. ItsEasy Passport & Visa charges $45 for its four-week passport processing service and $895 for one-day service. “One- to three-day passport service requires urgent travel. Please contact us for details,” the agency advises.

However, keep in mind that these services have limited availability because expeditors also rely on the same small clutch of appointments being available.

Bailey Berg is a freelance travel writer and editor, who covers breaking news, trends, tips, transportation, sustainability, the outdoors, and more. She was formerly the associate travel news editor at Afar. Her work can also be found in the New York Times, the Washington Post, National Geographic, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, the Points Guy, Atlas Obscura, Vice, Thrillist, Men’s Journal, Architectural Digest, Forbes, Lonely Planet, and beyond.
From Our Partners
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
More from AFAR