I got married last October and finally got around to updating my name on my passport at the end of May. I mailed my application with plenty of time to get it for my trip to Croatia in July. Only problem? I forgot to sign the form! With flights booked with my new last name and my password still reflecting my old, the only option was to replace my passport in person. Here’s what you need to know about getting a new passport fast.

Make an Appointment with the Passport Agency

In order to get an expedited passport in person, you need to make an appointment at a Passport Agency online. Appointment slots open up three weeks before your travel date, and the appointment will take place within two weeks of your travel date. You can schedule an appointment here. If your travel date is within eight weeks, you can still expedite your application by mail. My travel date wasn’t for about six weeks, but I thought it was too risky to expedite my application by mail. Instead, I waited until three weeks before and made an appointment online.

Gather Your Materials

The purpose of your visit will determine what materials you need to bring. For example, if you need a completely new passport, you will need to fill out for DS-11 but if you are renewing a passport, you will fill out DS-82. Since I already had a passport but needed to change the name, I had to bring form DS-82, my current passport, my original marriage certificate, and a recent passport photo. The renewal cost $110 plus a $60 expedited service fee. I also ended up paying $16 for expedited shipping to make sure my passport arrived in time. The Passport Agency accepts credit cards, checks, money orders, cash, and even prepaid Visa and Mastercard gift cards.

Visit the Passport Agency

I’m lucky enough to live about a 30-minute walk from the Passport Agency in Boston. I arrived early for my appointment and was prompted to wait since the office hadn’t opened yet. About five minutes before opening, an employee had everyone with an appointment form one line and everyone without an appointment form another. I could hear them checking on how soon people without appointments needed their passports so they could help people with same or next day travel first.

I first met with a representative who made sure I had all of the necessary materials. She organized everything into a packet and handed me a number. I was then directed into another waiting area, and my number was called after a few minutes. The next representative processed my application and collected payment. The entire process took about 30 minutes, and I had my new passport in hand about three days later.

Other Option: Passport Courier Service

If you don’t live near a passport agency, you can use a courier service for a passport renewal instead. You mail the materials to them and they go to the Passport Agency for you. This, of course, comes at a premium. You won’t receive your passport any faster than if you went to the Passport Agency yourself, so it’s always better to do it yourself if you can.

Final Thoughts

I was pleasantly surprised by how smoothly the passport office in Boston runs. While it is inconvenient to visit a Passport Agency in person, once you are there, it’s a well-oiled machine. If you are nervous about getting your passport in time, be sure to make an appointment as soon as you can so you have a full two weeks before your date of travel for your passport to arrive. If you have to go later than that, the agency can control how fast your passport is processed and can even offer same-day pick-up if absolutely necessary.

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