Passport Headache


What I learned the past two weeks regarding passports:

1. If you get a passport and need to change your name within a year of the issue date, there will be no fee charged by the USA. I really wish I had known this last October.

2. When renewing or changing your name on your passport, you can not use the same photo as before. This will cause delays.

3. All mail-in renewals for US passports are processed in New Hampshire. Due to the post-9/11 mandate that any travel outside US borders requires a passport, many people are renewing their passports and doing so rather early. This, along with understaffing in New Hampshire, has created processing times of 8-12 weeks, not the standard 4-6 weeks.

4. The US has not updated the previously stated delay on the Department of State website.

5. Expect at least a 20 minute wait to talk to a human when you call the 800 number.

6. Be thankful if you are within 100 miles of a Regional Passport Office.

7. It’s okay to press the phone agent for options, the first time you’re on the phone. Know exactly what you are to bring to the office, what forms you are to fill out when you get there, and BRING IT ALL.

8. Passports can be expensive. You can also avoid a bunch of fees if your window agent knows the rules. If you are caught in a bind, don’t hesitate to ask what actual fees are due. Thankfully, in my case, no expediting fee was charged and they applied my previous fee to the new passport.

In the end, I thankfully got my new name on a passport and was able to cross the border into Canada. For all the trouble this passport caused, I better get to use it!!!

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