I awoke abruptly around 1 a.m. on December 24, not thinking about Christmas Eve. I was worried that I hadn’t checked the expiration date on my son’s passport for our impending trip on December 27. Realization hit me that a child’s passport expired after five years of the issue date, not ten like an adult’s. I quietly slid out of bed and checked the box where I had stored our documents. When I opened my son’s expired passport, my heart raced.
Since I couldn’t sleep, I checked the U.S. Passports and International Travel website. The site indicated that some countries would not accept a passport with an expiration date within 60 days of departure. Additionally, I learned that processing time for an expedited passport could take days to weeks.
We needed an appointment, and I exhaled when I thought about the improbability of getting a meeting on short notice the day after Christmas. However, I learned that we could walk in without an appointment. But if the passport office was busy, there was no guarantee.
Passport Renewal Locations
The next morning, when I called the Washington office, they confirmed that they didn’t have any available appointments. Moreover, they suggested that I call the Philadelphia office. Immediately, I called the agency in Philadelphia, and thankfully they gave us an appointment at 9:00 a.m. on December 26.
The representative said that we needed to fill out an application. Additionally, we had to bring my son’s expired passport with proof of international travel reservations. Most importantly, she said that they would issue a replacement passport that day. At that point, I didn’t care about paying expedited passport renewal fees.
After checking the documents needed for the passport, I woke my son on December 26 at 6:30 a.m. Within twenty minutes, we had climbed into the car and were headed to Philadelphia.
“Why do we have to leave so early?” he asked.
“Because if there is an accident, or if we have a flat tire, or run into holiday traffic and miss our appointment, we miss our trip,” I said.
Philadelphia Passport Agency
When we arrived at the Philadelphia Passport Agency, I noticed that several people carried luggage. I assumed that they had been turned away at the airport.
First Line for Passport Renewal
As we stood in the first line, I sweated thinking about the consequences of not checking my son’s passport. Moreover, I thumbed through the papers in my file while I worried that somehow I had missed bringing a relevant document needed for the renewal.
Second Line for Passport Renewal
The agent confirmed our appointment and sent us to the second line. While we waited about 40 minutes, I shifted my weight like a pendulum. Finally, we approached the desk. That agent accepted our documents and sent us to the line to wait for the photographer to take my son’s photo. After the man took his photo, he told us to return at 2 p.m. to collect the passport. Finally, we left to explore Philadelphia.
“How lucky are you to tour Philadelphia with your mother on the day after Christmas?” I asked.
“Funny, mom,” he said with a slight smile.
We traversed Philadelphia and ate a fantastic lunch at the historic City Tavern. In addition to enjoying a delicious meal, I loved this unplanned time with my son. Who needed to pack anyway?
The U.S. Custom House
When we returned to the U.S. Custom House to pick up the passport, a lady ladened with luggage stood in front of us in line. I heard her tell the custom’s agent that when she checked in at the airport with her family, she learned that her passport had expired. She said that her family had continued their trip, and she was planning to get her passport and meet them that night if she could get a flight.
I thought, what a terrible way to start a vacation, knowing that could have been us. Luckily, even with all the hoopla, we left for our family trip early the next morning.
Most importantly, if you have a trip planned and you learn that your passport has expired, there is hope for you. Check out the U.S. Passports and International Travel website for everything that you need to know to expedite your documents.
Moreover, you can find services that will rush your passport renewal and do the legwork for you, for a price.
With all that said, I hope that you have a great trip!