Passport worries

Old Mar 20th, 2007, 07:13 PM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 683
My daughter just had to renew her passport. Six weeks after she applied they cashed our check. Two weeks after that she got her new passport, a total of eight weeks.
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Old Mar 20th, 2007, 07:17 PM
  #22  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 380
It left our post office on 2/20 with express mail and was signed for on 2/23 at 2AM according to the post office tracking. The check cleared my bank on 3/13, which means they probably deposited in their account on 3/12--I'm sure there is absolutely NO float on checks going into a government account. It showed up on the tracking at the end of last week--so probably 1-2 days after the check cleared. To give a feel for the difference in service, my husband has a business trip in April to the Bahamas (lucky guy) and we applied for his passport on the same day and paid for the expedited service. He had it in his hands in 8 days. I didn't feel compelled to pay for that service for me and my daughter since we weren't travelling until July.
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Old Mar 21st, 2007, 06:57 AM
  #23  
LHS
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
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Last night I was talking to my husband about this thread, he got a funny look on his face and said, "I wonder when my passport expires?" March 2007.

I'm curious to see how long his renewal takes in comparison to mine & our daughter's. He & I can be flexible, our daughter has a summer class scheduled in Costa Rica.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2007, 02:06 PM
  #24  
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 197
We applied for my sons' passports on January 22 and received both of them by March 12 (8 weeks). We didn't request expedited service. I'd also recommend waiting until mid-April before panicking. Good luck! We leave for Europe May 2.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2007, 02:30 PM
  #25  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 27
I had the same problem with my daughter's misplaced passport for a trip to the Caymans next week. I had applied 1/19 & routine service was recommended. Called frequently, check cashed very late, online estimate of passport arrival kept getting pushed back (to the return date of our trip!). They were not prepared for >1 million apps. in January. They can't change to expedite until it appears online. Even then, after giving my credit card number & thinking all was well, it did not get charged & is only sent through as a routine request until 2 weeks before. I stopped being able to get through on their phone.

They recommended calling every 3 days. Finally, the post office recommended just showing up at passport agency with my tracing records in hand. They may not allow it anymore, but I was seen, daughter's file pulled & it was fedexed to me about 5 days later. Good luck!
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Old Mar 22nd, 2007, 06:13 PM
  #26  
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 40
I am trying to get some encouragement from reading these posts. Last night I was on hold for over one hour and nobody ever came on line. They do close at midnight but I had called before 11pm.
I just sent in my application last week and wanted to pay the extra fee for an expedited process. My departure is for May 18th.
I've contacted my congressman and we'll see if he can do anything.
Karina
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Old Mar 22nd, 2007, 08:21 PM
  #27  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 1,652
Now the recording says they only want to talk to you if you're traveling within 10 days.

When I called a few weeks ago to try to pay by credit card over the phone to change to expedited service, I was told that they would only do that for those traveling within 2 weeks. So, for those of us who have already mailed our old passports in (unexpedited), there's nothing more we can do until 2 weeks before before the trip.

My question is: if my passport doesn't arrive 2 weeks before my trip, and I end up going in person to the office in NY, will they be able to locate the old passport that I mailed to Philadelphia? Or will I have to start all over as a first-time applicant? For new applicants, they required an UNEXPIRED driver's license as an ID, and mine is an expired out-of-state one. (I need the new passport as ID to get a new driver's license, but maybe also vice-versa!)

Those of you who have succeeded in getting help from your congressmen-- where do you live? Do congressmen in large cities bother to get involved with things like this?
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Old Mar 22nd, 2007, 08:28 PM
  #28  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 1,652
laartista,
When you went in person the day of your trip, did you need a new set of photos and a new application form?
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Old Mar 22nd, 2007, 08:40 PM
  #29  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,880
They took the photo there and filled out the apps there. Once I showed my plane ticket it took maybe 2 hours to have the passport in my hand.It was at the main passport office in NYC. I was flying that night so they super fast-tracked it. This was about 20 years ago though. LOL
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Old Mar 22nd, 2007, 10:49 PM
  #30  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,181
This thread brings back smiles to me when I think about my drama in replacing my lost passport last May. From my post about the experience last May at the end of a very long day:

"I got a wretched surprise this morning when I woke up at 5:00 a.m. and began packing in preparation for our departure tomorrow from Spokane to Portland for our flight to Munich the following morning.

"NO SIGN OF MY PASSPORT! I knew I had it about 10 days ago, because I used it for ID on a flight from Seattle to my home.

"After a fruitless search, by about 10:00 a.m., I dedided I had no choice but to book an 11:45 a.m. flight from my home in Spokane, to go to the Seattle passport office and see what I could do. Before leaving for the airport, I was able to schedule a 1:30 appointment through the mechanized voice mail system, arranged for my sister to immediately take me to the airport for my flight, and was able to get in touch with my son in Seattle to pick me up at Sea-Tac at 12:45 and drive me to the federal building in downtown Seattle for my appointment.

"Fortunately, I'd brought my birth certificate with me, but I didn't know I'd need a copy of my travel itinerary (to show proof of the emergency need for expedited service) and I didn't bring passport photos, assuming they could be taken there, as they are at my local passport office. The guard/receptionist sent me off a couple of blocks away to Fed-Ex/Kinko, where I got my passport pics taken and logged on to Travelocity and printed my travel itinerary. Sprinting back to the passport office a couple of blocks away, my son helped me fill out the paperwork, because I'm partially blind, the result of a stroke caused by heart surgery a year ago, which maked all of this much more stressful and challenging.

"About an hour from the time we finally had our act together enough to present our paperwork to an agent, we walked out the door with my new passport, in time to comfortably manage my 4:50 flight back home, home within about 5 hours from start to finish.

"I was amazed by how helpful everyone had been and by how it had all fallen into place so beautifully. what a relief!"

Botton line: Were I you, I would not panic until a couple of weeks before your trip. In the meantime, find out where your regional passport office is and find out the protocol for getting emergency service on your passport. If you go to their office, you'll need to call and make an appointment ahead of time. Bring with you your driver's license, a certified copy of your birth certificate, your ticket or a copy of a printout of your e-ticket from the website where you booked it, and a photo.

As noted above, once we were able to meet with the folks at the passport office, it was just an hour later that we walked out with passport in hand.

Final tab for my carelessness:

State Dept., emergency processing fee: $157
Kinko's, passport photo: $14
Kinko's, computer access to print out itinerary: $4
Southwest Airlines, round trip Spokane-Seattle: $200
Total cost of bonehead carelessness: $373

I felt only elation, however, in being able to pull myself out of the hole I'd dug for myself, with time to spare.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2007, 06:32 AM
  #31  
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 30
I sent my passport renewal information express mail on Tuesday. Express Mail lost the package. With all of my information. My old passport, my pictures, my check... I have no idea how long it's going to take them to find it and I have no idea what I do now.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2007, 06:57 AM
  #32  
ira
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 74,544
Hi Fifi,

>Do congressmen in large cities bother to get involved with things like this?<

Absolutely.

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Old Mar 23rd, 2007, 08:23 AM
  #33  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,880
That's right, It was 100$ for a rush back then.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2007, 08:37 AM
  #34  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 362
We had to get our passports renewed as they were expiring in August (but our trip to China in May meant we needed 6mo remaining on them. On January 22, we sent in ours -- figuring that a May departure would give us plenty of time so we didn't do it "expedited." Within 3 days we were terrified and kicking ourselves for not taking that route. However, after three weeks of when we figured they had recieved them, the check was cashed. We turned up in the on-line system with a projected date of March 11...then March 12...then March 13.

Then they changed the "6-8 weeks" language on that site to "10-12 weeks" although they did not change the date of March 13. We got them in the mail on March 16. This was early enough for our tour company to handle the China visas for us (cheaper that driving to DC from NC). You will probably be fine. What ever date they are giving you when you check on-line is probably about when you will get your passports. Since you don't need visas for Paris, you should have plenty of time before departure.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2007, 08:43 AM
  #35  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 362
Do they give you an "estimated date of arrival" on the State Dept site yet? I forgot to ask you that!

Since you only sent yours in 2 weeks after we sent ours, I would hope you should get more definitive info from that status checker by now. (I know how distressing it is to get that other message about no record...)
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Old Mar 23rd, 2007, 08:58 AM
  #36  
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 234
I had to renew my passport before one of my trips to Ireland one year. I did not pay for expedited service and it was getting close to the departure date so I was getting worried also. I called the passport office and was able to request the expedited mailing on the phone and paid with a credit card and it came quickly. As another poster suggested, try calling late at night when they are not inundated with calls. Hopefully you will get it in time!! If it gets too close, I would go to the local passport office and appeal!! Good Luck.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2007, 09:05 AM
  #37  
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,337
I don't mean to alarm any of you, but I think a lot of these posts are trying to create, from people's personal experiences, how the Passport Agency works, and how long it takes -- and trying to take comfort from that. My husband's current experience contradicts a lot of these stories. We fly April 2.

My husband applied for a RENEWAL on February 2, in person at a post office in the DC suburbs. At that time, we didn't know exactly when we'd be flying, but we expected it to be between April 1 and May 15. He did NOT expedite (though I would have recommended it just to be safe, had I known).

They cashed his check just 2 business days later, February 6. Still, he had heard nothing for weeks. When he called the number, at all hours, he was often unable to get in. The one time he got in previously (in mid-March), he was told there was NO RECORD of him in the system yet. Every other time he tried to call back, he could not get in - no option of waiting on hold, just kicked out. In fact, the number is supposed to be open until midnight, but the recording has said the line is closed at 10 p.m. He even returned in person to the post office where he applied to see if they could help, and of course they could do nothing because once it leaves their hands, they can't do anything about it.

Then, this past weekend, this story hit the national news, and there are reports of it taking twice as long as expected, with no real end in sight.

Likely because of this, the hotline now seems to have a little more staffing. On Monday morning, my husband was able to call in at 6:57, float around the system, and then get in the queue to wait on hold for 40 minutes prior to speaking with someone. The guy found his passport, and said it was scheduled to be sent April 2 (our travel date). That's two months from his application date - though it sounds like most of you applied with more time to spare. The guy on the phone said there was nothing he could do to speed up the processing, but of course, he said my husband could switch to expedited service (pay the $60) and get it a week earlier (in time for our trip). So, you can switch to expedited service, at least in certain situations, and the agency doesn't really feel compelled to do anything to help you without charging you extra.

My point is - check cashing date doesn't mean much at all. Many applications aren't in the system until they get close to actually being processed, and the agency doesn't really seem to be concerned with hiring more people to get the work done. You can switch to expedited service (maybe they require an impending travel date), but they probably won't speed it up otherwise, unless you call your congressperson.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2007, 10:50 AM
  #38  
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 40
At this point, I am thinking that I may end up trying to get our passports from the passport office in San Francisco within the prior 2 weeks of departure. I am getting the certified birth certificates that I will need to prove my identity since the old passports have been sent to Philadelphia.
Someone correct me if I am wrong, but I was told that I cannot pay the "expedited fee" UNTIL my application shows up in the system and this may take 4 weeks. Is there any way around this process?
I could just kick myself for not paying the expedited fee when I mailed in our passports.
I am optimistic that things will work out but it's very frustrating because I am not a person who usually waits until the last minute to make my travel arrangements.
I did get a call from my congressman's office the day after I faxed him a letter. Their office is looking into it but I don't know if THEY can do anything until my application shows up in the damn system !!
To everyone on this site, please keep us posted on the progress of your applications.
Karina
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Old Mar 23rd, 2007, 05:22 PM
  #39  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,420
Monday morning, pick up your phone and call your Congressman's office. Explain that this UNACCEPTABLE!!!! (It is!) Ask them to assit you. They have some poor person whose job it is to deal with these idiot moves the US Goverment makes that affect thier voters. (Senators do to, but my understanding is that they don't seem to feel as urgent about it. I guess it's something to do with a two year election cycle!)

Call your congress person DAILY (Heck hourly) if need be. After all YOU are paying them, thier staff and the idiots at the Passport agency
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Old Mar 24th, 2007, 11:40 AM
  #40  
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 2,481
If they cashed your check then you are in the system. My application wasn't showing up on-line, but when I called them, they had the record right there and allowed me to pay the expedite fee right there. They even held up my son's so they could go out in the same envelope and save me $.

This was all at the end of last year before the huge crush.

And my husband's passport application didn't show up on-line until I actually had it in my hand.
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