Misplacing your passport is an extremely stressful situation. It’s even worse if you happen to lose it before a trip. In this video/post, I’m going to share my experience of doing just that, and explain how to get a passport in less than 24 hours.

Why I needed an expedited passport

We recently went on a trip to Northern Italy, and two days before the trip, I started to pack. One thing that I couldn’t locate was my passport. Though I was certain that it was somewhere in our apartment since I recently used it for some video footage. It was a Sunday night and our trip was on Tuesday evening. You can imagine my horror when I realized that I sent my passport to our last giveaway winner the day before. I had taken some stock footage of my passport in the giveaway backpack. Though I had forgotten to empty the pocket before sending over the backpack to our winner.

I immediately searched online for different options for an expedited passport. The official State Department website showed options for an expedited passport. Though none of the listed scenarios met the timeframe that I needed. I was flying in less than 48 hours! A few of the private passport agencies online advertised that they could get a passport within 48 hours. I even found one in LA that offered a 24 hour turnaround time, but at a cost of $500.

Reviewing the options

Feeling desperate but determined, I opted for the 24-hour expedited service. Though before submitting an application, I looked up reviews of the agency online. Interestingly enough, I found Yelp reviews mentioning that it was a waste of money. They explained that you could get an expedited passport in less than a day from the local passport agency for less than half the cost. Multiple reviewers mentioned that it cost around $200, and could be handled at the official Passport Agency in Los Angeles. I thought I’d give it a shot.

Long story short, I got to the State Department Passport Agency at 5:45 AM and got a walk-in appointment. The agency didn’t open until 7 AM, but I was able to still get seen. It seemed like everyone who showed up early was able to get a walk-in appointment too. After submitting everything and paying $205, which was around 10:00 AM, I was told to come back at 3 PM for my new passport.

I drove back to the Federal Building at 3 PM and got my passport. I was exhausted, but so happy that I didn’t have to change or cancel any of our travel plans.

A lot of government services have a bad reputation for being inefficient, disorganized, and unfriendly. However, I found everyone who worked at the Los Angeles Passport Agency to be very professional, friendly, and helpful. Even the security guard who showed up early helped us to navigate through the process in an orderly manner. Of course, this was my experience in Los Angeles, but I imagine that it’s probably similar in other passport agency offices across the US.

It is possible to get a new passport in less than 24 hours!

Getting back to the question, “can you get a passport in less than 24 hours?” The answer is yes, especially if you live in a large city and can get to an official government passport agency office. There are 27 of them in the country, so it’s likely there is one near you. Keep in mind that this is different than your local post office which can also process your passport application, but not in an expedited manner.

Tips on getting an expedited passport

I learned quite a bit through this process, so I thought I’d share tips if you happen to find yourself in the same situation.

1. Do your research:

As I mentioned earlier, the official State Department website does not show an option for an expedited passport within 24 hours. Had I not seen people mention it on Yelp, I probably would have paid some private agency $500 to do it. Also, if you decide to go with a private agency, make sure you check the reviews to verify that the service is legit.

2. Understand the timeframe for passports:

I didn’t realize that the Passport Agency prioritized passports based on departure date. I did notice that a few people were turned away since their departure date was more than 72 hours. They were told that it would take a while to get a new passport under the regular service. The passport could be expedited for a fee only if the departure date was less than 72 hours away. It doesn’t make sense, but know that getting a new passport if your departure date falls between three days to a week may be challenging.

3. Determine your situation:

Since I knew the location of my passport but was unable to retrieve it, I assumed that it wasn’t officially lost. I thought it would be easier for the State Department to create a duplicate passport. Though I learned that if your passport is inaccessible, then it is officially misplaced. This means that you need to request a new one and declare the old one lost.

4. Fill out documents in advance:

As with the previous tip, make sure you understand what forms you need based on your situation. I filled out the new passport application form, but I didn’t fill out the official loss statement for my old passport. This added more time to the process when I was at the Passport Agency. I was asked to fill out the loss form and go back through the line.

5. Have passport photos available:

You’ll need to provide two passport photos with your application. Luckily, I had a bunch of photos made a few years ago. I generally advise carrying a few when traveling in case you need them for a lost or stolen passport, or even a visa. Having some available meant that I wasn’t scrambling to get them at the last minute.

If you’re looking for a way to save money on passport photos, see our post/video on DIY passport photo apps!

6. Bring multiple forms of IDs:

I suggest bringing any official IDs with you. Surprisingly, I had an old expired passport and they said that it was the best form of ID to bring. I also brought the passport card for my lost passport, driver’s license, military ID, and Global Entry card.

7. Be ready for various payment methods:

The Passport Agency accepted credit cards, but I brought cash, my debit card, and my checkbook just to be safe. You don’t want to delay your application in the event that their credit card terminal is down.

8. Request a larger passport:

There’s no extra fee or wait to get a larger passport. I highly suggest getting the larger passport so you have more space for stamps and visas. Some travel visas require an empty page. I’ve also heard stories of some passport control officials requiring completely blank pages for stamps. It’s better to have the extra pages for your travels especially since it doesn’t cost anything extra.

9. Determine whether you want/need a passport card:

I’m a bit torn about passport cards. I opted for one with my last passport and it’s functioned as a federal ID. Some people use it as their carry passport when walking around a foreign country. This allows them to keep their real passport in the hotel safe. It’s a good idea, but I still prefer to carry a photocopy of my passport. I worry that foreign officials might not recognize the passport card. Also, in case you’re wondering, you can only use a passport card in lieu of your regular passport in certain countries and situations

10. Get to the passport agency early:

I thought I was going to be the first person in line when I got to the Passport Agency at 5:45 AM on a Monday morning. Though I was probably the twentieth person in line. If you can’t make an appointment online, I suggest getting there at least 1 or 1.5 hours in advance to be safe.

Have you ever misplaced your passport before your trip? Let us know in the comment section below.

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