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If your passport is stuck in Charleston

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I received my passport today. I leave on Saturday. It took nearly 12 weeks. When the 14th day prior to my trip arrived, I called the National Passport Information Center and requested an expedite. A couple of days before, I called my congressman's office for help.

The National Passport Information Center *requested* an expedite three times within the last 11 days, none of which were acknowledged by Charleston.

My Congressman is Kenny Marchant. When I first spoke to the assistant in his office, she said she would be able to help and claims to have requested an expedite on that day. The following week when I called back for status, she acted disinterested in my situation because of the number of people she said she was trying to help who were traveling in the next couple of days. She didn't sound as though she would help me until I was within the same week of travel. After explaining that I was not satisfied with that response, she said she'd request the expedite again.

Last Friday, when I last checked with the National Passport Information Center, my application had not been expedited and there was nothing they could recommend other than to keep calling or go to Houston.

I would have gladly gone to Houston if the scene there wasn't has horrible as I've heard and read about. It sounded like Houston held no promises and I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands.

The National Passport Information Center had previously told me that there were no phones in the Charleston office and that the only means of communication is e-mail. This didn't sound believable, so with some searching, I was able to find the number set up in Charleston for congressional offices to call. I called the number myself on Monday morning and the phone was answered in 19 seconds. I spoke to a very pleasant woman who stated that my congressman's office had NOT contacted them (sounds like we are paying my congressman to be a lying politician), but she would go talk to the processor immediately and get my passport out either Monday or Tuesday. Monday afternoon, I called back and a very pleasant and helpful male explained that my passport had finally been quality controlled and printed, but did not get packaged in enough time to make the FedEx pick-up for the day, but it would be packaged in the morning. I called back mid-day on Tuesday and was given the FedEx tracking number. Within 30 minutes, another representative called and provided me with the same tracking number, not knowing that I had already called in and obtained it. It arrived early this morning.

I have conflicted feelings about posting the phone number. On one hand, if I post it, many frustrated people can get some relief. On the other hand, if I post it, it will inevitably be abused by people who are not in a last-minute urgent situation. I feel somewhat obligated to help people by posting the number, but I also feel that I will be hurting those same people because others who aren't in emergency situations will be calling the number.

My compromise: post the fax number. The fax number to Charleston is 843-746-1688. I ask that you only use this if your case is urgent and you are not able to get help through your congressman's office and you are traveling in the next 10 days.

Inasmuch as I did not actually use the fax to solve my situation, I don't know how successful this will be, but after speaking to so many people at the Charleston office, I feel sure that they are doing as much as they can under the circumstances and would respond to fax requests from applicants as possible. At the very least, it is one more avenue for you to explore if your passport is stuck in Charleston and you are in a panic.

Good luck!

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