Thursday, May 31, 2007

Passport Frustrations

I'm nearing my vacation but I'm missing on item: my passport! Despite sending it about about 3 months ago, I have yet to get it back.

I've been checking the status of my application via the page on the State Department's website, but all it has said is "processing" for the last few weeks. They don't want to talk to you unless you are leaving within 2 weeks.

When it did get less that 2 weeks for me, I started calling, but it is hard to get through to someone at the National Passport Center. I finally did after calling for 45 to 60 mins over a few days, and the rep looked up my info and only said that it is still being processed in New Hampshire, and that she could mark it "expedite" and try to get it to me next Monday. I am not optimistic this will happen.

If I had to do this over, I'd do a few things differently:

1) Send in the passport even earlier. Apparently 3 months isn't enough time for them to handle it.

2) Expedite it. I just sent mine in normal and I think that just means your application gets ignored versus ones applications that include the extra expedited fee.

3) Fudge your travel date. I think I made the colossal error of listing the date I need my passport as the date I actually need it. Big big error. I see now what you want to do is sent it in 6 months early and also say you need it a month earlier than you actually do.

4) If you live near a passport center, just make an appointment there, and again claim you need it within two weeks. It looks like even if you send it in early you might wind up being forced to do this anyway so just skip right to this step.

5) My biggest recommendation is never ever book a trip unless you have a passport in your hands, with an suitable distant expiration date. My passport is due to expire in late June 2007, and I thought back in February it wouldn't be a problem to book a trip in June and also get the passport renewed by then. Ha!

The rep said that if I didn't get the passport Monday, I could always go to a center, and wasn't I lucky that one was in my same state! Well yeah, except the center is in Miami and that is a 5 hour one-way drive... not exactly an afternoon trip.

It is just a disaster and part of what upsets me is that I didn't anticipate this enough to game/outwit the renewal system.

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