What to Expect and What to Do While You Wait
If you need to get an expedited passport in NYC, I’ll share with you what to expect as well as ideas for what to do while you wait. As a flight attendant I am required to have a passport for flying, so I didn’t have time between to renew by mail. I headed to the passport office in NYC to get my passport in a day. Do you need a passport in a rush? Reasons to get an expedited passport at a passport agency include: life or death emergency, traveling within two weeks or need a foreign visa within 4 weeks, and flight crew members. If you need your passport within six weeks you don’t have to visit a passport agency, you can expedite at an acceptance facility or by mail. If you need your passport within a day, you must go to a passport agency.
*TIP: There are passport expeditors and courier companies that charge an additional fee to have your passport expedited. It is not necessary to use these services as they charge an additional fee on top of the expedited fee and you are still required to appear in person is using a DS-11 form. Learn more here.
Scroll to the end of this post to hear my video recap of my day as I obtained my expedited passport in NYC.
4 Steps Before You Go:
Step 1: Find a Facility
The first step is to locate your nearest passport facility. You can search your location at this link: Find a Passport Facility.
(This post contains information specific to an expedited passport in NYC. Each agency may be different. I am not familiar with any other agency, so be sure to ask any questions you have when you call for an appointment.)
Step 2: Make an Appointment
At most passport facilities you are eligible to schedule an appointment with proof of international travel if you are traveling internationally in less than 2 weeks or need to obtain a foreign visa within 4 weeks. Typically passports are processed within 1-8 days, depending on need. Will call (pickup) service is available for life or death emergencies and immediate international travel. Some passport agencies permit walk-ins, but it is best to call this number to verify that it is permitted at your nearest passport agency before just showing up. The agent you speak with will help verify that you meet the requirements for an expedited passport.
I actually did not have an appointment when I went to get my passport expedited. I had tried to make an appointment, but there weren’t any available on the day I had free. I got to the NYC Passport Agency at about 10:30 am and this was the line for walk-ins, wrapping around the corner of the building with another 20 or so people.
The line moved fairly well, but it took just under an hour before I entered the building. Those with appointments were walking straight into the building. Making an appointment will definitely save you time.
Step 3: Get Passport Photos
You can get passport photos at most drug stores and some post offices in your area. If needed, there is a drug store across the street from the Passport Agency where you can obtain a photo. Be sure your photo meets all of the requirements. You can find examples of acceptable passport photos here.
Step 4: Fill Out Forms
Only Form DS-11 is accepted at a passport agency. The first pages of this form list what you will need to bring with you, including: Proof of U.S. Citizenship, Proof of Identity, Recent Color Photograph, Passport Fees, and Proof of Immediate Travel (or reason for expedited processing).
*TIP: I made some mistakes on my form and used Wite-Out to correct them. I learned that Wite-Out is not allowed and I had to fill out a new form there. If you make a mistake, you may cross out the mistake with just one line and correct it.
Appointment Day: What to Expect
When you get to the passport agency, you may see two lines: one for walk-ins and one for those with appointments. Every day is different, but when I was there without an appointment I waited about an hour before entering the building. Once you enter the building, you go through a security line exactly like the TSA checkpoints at the airport. Food and drink are not permitted. Once you clear security you stand in another line to turn in your paperwork. Again there are two lines: one for appointments and one for walk-ins. I waited about 40 minutes in the walk-in line before my paperwork was checked. Here the agent verifies you have all the correct information with you then gives you a number and sends you upstairs.
*TIP: There are public restrooms in the first lobby you enter. You’ll want to use these before heading upstairs so you don’t waste time going up and down the elevators and potentially miss your number being called. The restrooms have changing tables both in mens and ladies rooms. The toilet paper is about half a ply. You might want to bring your own tissues, especially if you have kids with you who might get very frustrated at the toilet paper falling apart. We use one-ply at home, and this t.p. is makes one-ply feel luxurious.
Once upstairs, you take a seat and wait for your number to be called. When I was there two waiting rooms were available. The front room, where the agent windows were located, had signs stating no cell phone use. Electronics were permitted, just no talking on the phone. The back room didn’t have those signs and it was a little bit hard to hear the announcements of which number was up next, as some children were playing on iPads without using headphones. My number was called within about ten minutes and I went to a window to submit my forms and payment to an agent. Once processed, the agent gave me a receipt and number and told me a window of time when I could return to pick up my passport. This time varies per person, based on how immediate the need for the passport is. Most people I saw were told to return the next day for their passports. Those (like me) who needed their passport the same day were given a three-hour window in the afternoon in which to return for their passport. I was told to check back between 1-4.
I returned at 3 and still waited until 4 for the passport. When you return to pick up your passport, you can stand in a line to check on the status of the passport. I did, and was told my passport wasn’t ready yet. I sat down and waited, coloring and reading a book, until my name was called. They called about twenty names at once, so I again stood in a line to wait to collect my new passport. They reminded me to check my new passport for accuracy before leaving the building. Then I was free to go, new passport in hand, and ready once again for international travel!
Appointment Day: What to Do While You Wait
After submitting my forms and payment, I decided to head out of the building and spend my waiting time with something enjoyable. First I looked for a good place to eat. I am so glad I asked someone on the sidewalk for recommendations! Someone local to the neighborhood told me I should eat at Westville, which was just diagonally across the street from the NYC Passport Agency, and I was not disappointed! The food was wonderful. I had this Sweet Chili Rice Bowl and Sweet Potato Tots, and it was fantastic! I happened to arrive just before the lunch crowd, which was perfect as once the lunch crowd hit there was about a thirty minute wait for a table. The menu was diverse and had several kid-friendly options.
Children’s Museum of the Arts
After lunch I walked around the corner to check out the Children’s Museum of the Arts. Since I didn’t have the kids with me I only checked it out from the lobby. This museum looks so fun! It has different rooms with different media types and is hands-on. Children can sign up for workshops in each different art form and there is a teacher in each room to guide the child. I definitely will visit here with the kids sometime soon! If you stop here with the kids, I would expect to spend at least two hours exploring.
NYC Fire Museum
My next stop was the NYC Fire Museum. What a great place! The building is an old firehouse and it has 5 display rooms, filled with vintage fire trucks and artifacts. There is a section where you can don a firefighter uniform and snap a picture.
There is a two-room display with artifacts and memorabilia from 9/11. As a flight attendant it was difficult for me to enter these rooms. I loved looking at the things like a stained glass picture which was a gift from a group of students to the NYC Fire Department. But when it came to looking at pictures from that day I found it completely impossible. I ran from the room a few times before I was able to return to look at the artifacts in the cases. Seeing a piece of “my” airplane was really tough to handle. By ignoring the photos on the walls I was able to tolerate being in the room for about five minutes before I ran out, sat on the floor, and sobbed for a few minutes. I’m sure I’m not the only one with this reaction, as there were several boxes of tissues placed around the room. If you are visiting the NYC Fire House Museum with children, I think the 9/11 rooms are not too much for the children. But I cannot say for sure, since I’m not sure how much was shown in the photographs. I recommend asking when you enter if you have a sensitive child. It is easy to go through the museum but skip that room if need be.
There was so much to see in the Fire House Museum. I spent over an hour there and could have spent even more time. I will try to write a complete review and share more photos soon.
So, your long wait for your passport doesn’t have to be spent sitting bored in a chair! Get out and explore! There is lots to do in the area!
Video Recap of My Day:
Question for you:
Have you ever had to secure a passport in a rush like this? Was your experience similar? I’d love to hear about it, especially if there were differences in the process for you. Comment below or send me a personal message on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
If you read this post and found it useful I’d love to hear that too! When you comment on this post it helps make the post more visible to others searching for this information. It also helps me know what tips are useful or not so I can provide better information for others reading.
Happy Cloud Surfing