Do you know how it feels to discover gold? I don’t, but I bet it feels similar to this. Today I’m sharing with you my secret to a free expedited passport.
First, let me clarify “free.” This is not a way to avoid paying regular passport fees. Instead, it’s a method to avoid the additional fees a private passport company would charge you to expedite your passport.
While completing visa paperwork to study abroad in Russia, I learned passports must not expire for 18 months after arrival in-country. My passport would expire in 12 months.
With only one week to turn in the paperwork, and normal expedited passports requiring about two weeks to process, I had to pay $249 for a private passport service on top of the normal expedited passport fees.
Procrastinating always comes back to bite, doesn’t it?
The courthouse clerk processing my passport application clicked her tongue in disapproval when she noticed I went through a private company. Apparently, there’s another way to receive a free expedited passport no one tells you about!
The Secret Way to Receive a Free Expedited Passport
Your local senator can help you receive a free expedited passport. Who knew?!
After learning this, I found the number of my local Director of Constituent Advocacy and explained my situation to her. The courthouse clerk finished processing my paperwork and I carried my application to Ms. Nancy, an employee of Senator Tom Thillis, at the Senator’s office in North Carolina. Ms. Nancy delivered my application to the post office that afternoon.
Three days later, I received my free expedited passport. Ms. Nancy even emailed me to confirm I received my passport in time!
How to Get Your Free Expedited Passport
If you need your passport ASAP, call your local senator’s office to see if they can offer you a free expedited passport. Each senator’s passport process may differ, but here are the steps I took to receive a new passport in only three days.
- Call the local senator’s office to see if they can help. Their small offices surely can’t handle every constituents passport, nor would it be fair to unnecessarily expedite a passport, so don’t be discouraged if they don’t take your case.
- Fill out the online passport application form, found here.
- If you don’t already have passport photos, I recommend Walgreens. Passport photos cost $15.
- Go to a processing station, like a post office or a courthouse. After completing the passport application on the State Department’s website, a locator tool will be visible to search local processing stations. Look for one with walk-in availability. Be sure to mention to the clerk you’ll hand-carry the processed application to your local senator’s office. Pay the $190.33 expedited passport fee (check, money order, or cash only) and $25 service fee (cash only).
- Buy an overnight stamp for $22.95 at the local post office.
- Carry your passport application and stamp to your senator’s office. Ms. Nancy included an official letter from the office of Senator Thillis requesting the passport to be expedited.
- Check your mailbox in a few days!
In total, expediting your passport will cost $238.28. These are all standard fees instead of ridiculous private company fees. A private passport company would’ve charged me an additional $249 to receive my passport in three days, whereas the Senator charged me $0.
Thankfully the private company refunded me $199 from the original $249, so I still saved a significant amount of money.
Do you know of other ways your Senator can help you?
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