If you need your passport in a hurry, here are your choices:
- If you're traveling within the next 14 days, make an appointment at a regional passport agency and apply in person. According to the State Department, the best time to call the automated lines is between 8:30 p.m. and 9 a.m. EST.
- The government's "expedited" service can take three weeks to process. The cost: $60 plus overnight delivery fees.
- Use a private expediter. Some, like Travisa, require that you make an appointment (in person or by mail, e-mail or phone) for any service. CIBTclaims you can get a passport or visa in days. Expect to pay about $175 to get a passport in a week or $250 for emergency processing, which takes two days or less, says Steven Diehl of CIBT.
- Really at sea? If you've got the connections, your best recourse may be for your congressional representative to pull some strings.
Julie Moline is a freelance writer, editor and editorial consultant in New York City.