I’m reporting the following as a cautionary warning to anyone needing a passport for foreign travel any time soon.
Our son and daughter-in-law planned a 10th anniversary trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico several months ago. The DIL, who is incredibly anal about never waiting until the last minute for anything (one wonders why she married into this family), went to the post office to renew her passport six weeks ago. The lady who waited on her asked when her trip was, the DIL said six weeks, the lady said it should take no more than four weeks, the DIL (her anality kicking in) said I want to pay the extra $75 to expedite and get it here in two weeks, and I want to pay the extra $15 to have it overnighted. The lady told her that all that was unnecessary, but it was her money.
After four weeks had passed with no passport, the DIL tried to call the number given to her as a number to use to check the status. She would call, get an automated message telling her that all agents were busy and to stay on the line and her call would be answered in the order in which it was received. She would stay on the line for 10-15 minutes then get a message that said there were an unusually large number of calls right then, please call back later, goodbye, and would then disconnect. She went through this process a couple of dozen times over two days, then hied herself back to the passport place at the post office.
After spending almost an hour in a long line (while managing two toddlers), the agent told her that there was nothing that could be done there but that she should call Kay Baily Hutchison’s (KBH) office. KBH is one of the U.S. Senators from Texas. The DIL called KBH and talked to the staff. They took her number and said many people were having the same problem and that they would get to work on it. After a week, with her trip looming a few days away, the DIL called KBH again. The staff told her they were aware of her problem and working on it, but that all their efforts were going into the problems of people leaving the next day, not the next week. Don’t call back, they said, we’re working on it.
As the day of the trip (May 30th) drew near, the DIL happened to hear of someone else heading to Mexico who had encountered a similar problem. She called this person only to find her gone, but her mother told the DIL that her daughter had gone to the airport early with a certified copy of her birth certificate and her driver’s license and had been given a temporary travel visa to Mexico. The DIL called American Airlines (the airline on which they had their tickets) and asked about a temporary travel visa. The person at AA told her that they had never heard of such a thing.
The DIL waited for Tuesday, the day before leaving, and received no passport. What she did get was MD and me showing up to babysit the kids in finest grandparent fashion while she and son were gone.
Early Wednesday morning, I took them to the airport a couple of hours early so they could see what they could figure out. They talked to the agent at AA who told them she would let them board the plane with the certified birth certificate and driver’s license, but couldn’t guarantee that the customs agents in Mexico would accept it. She told them that if they had trouble getting in to Mexico that they should slip the agent a $50 and said agent would probably let them through. She told them the big problem would be getting back, and that they should be prepared to bribe the agent in Puerto Vallarta to let them back on the plane to the U.S. Once in the U.S., she said, it would be up to the U.S. Customs and Immigration officer as to whether or not they would be hassled and to what degree.
They left yesterday, got through Mexican customs without a hitch, and are enjoying their 10th anniversary today.
I’ll give a report as to what happens when they come back late next Sunday afternoon. Keep your fingers crossed.
This is just another instance of the incompetence of our own government and its employees. The DIL wasted her $85 $90 ($75 for expedited and $15 for overnight); do you think she has a prayer getting it back? Is it even worth trying? And her long-awaited 10th anniversary trip is being somewhat marred by what she has gone through already and the stress that is weighing on her wondering what’s going to happen when she tries to come back. And do you think one single government employee gives a rat’s hind end about her plight? The incompetence and lack of concern is appalling given the amount of tax money we pay these swine.
The only time I’ve ever found that government employees are actually on the ball is if they’re trying to screw you. In fact, I’ve come up with what I call the Eades Law of Government Hiring. Everyone who is hired by the government is given a lengthy test. The ones found to be abysmally stupid and lazy are directed to the branches of government set up to help people. The ones found to be smart, ambitious, and eager to work are directed to the branches of government set up to hassle people, i.e., the IRS, the FTC, and other ‘regulatory’ outfits. It’s a real shame.


  1. This whole passport thing has been crazy. One of the bible colleges we support just went through a similar mess. 6 of the 20 students heading out for a missions trip didn’t get their passports until the day before they left, althought they applied for them in ample time. I just received word another of our church organizations are still waiting for 20 passports to arrive, again applied for in plenty of time.
    A true nightmare inflicted by our own government upon its citizens.
    Good luck in getting the rest of them.

  2. Big,big sigh.
    The problem with paperwork in any situation, private or public, is that some people should never be allowed near paperwork, or the paperwork flow. It’s obvious that someone dealing with the passport documents didn’t know or care to get them out on time to the relevant federal office. I am so sorry your DIL had to go through that ordeal.
    In 2002, my family decided to celebrate my parents 50th wedding anniversary with an Alaskan cruise, and almost all cruises to Alaska leave out of Vancouver, Canada. So even though one is going to another state in the union, a passport is needed to get through Canadian customs. About nine of us had to obtain or renew passports. One of the Orange County passport offices is in a particular library, and we all submitted our documents there. Each and everyone of us received the passport six weeks to the day, or six weeks plus one. We had gone to this library instead of the post office on the recommendation of a well traveled friend.
    I can tell you that the librarian who took me through the process had done it many, many times, and had gone through some kind of certification to be able to do it–each of us had to make an appointment with her or one other librarian who was also certified.
    At the end of the session, she actually put my stuff in a manila envelope, attached postage, stuck it into the U S Mail box especially set up for that purpose. All along, she had explained the why and wherefore of each step–it couldn’t have been smoother. It’s just so wrong that standards for handling important documents can’t seem to be made more uniform–at least now your family knows where NOT to go to.
    MD and I got our last renewal at the Santa Barbara post office set up for the purpose.  It couldn’t have gone more smoothly.  We expedited and got ours back in under two weeks.
    I think the problem now is the new regulations requiring passports to get into Mexico and Canada have overwhelmed them.  But, they had to know it was coming and should have prepared for it.

  3. Who comes up with the workaround, as sketchy and stress-inducing as it is? The private enterprise involved, of course American Airlines.
    How true.  And there wasn’t even anything in it for them.

  4. What has happened to turn getting a passport into such a mess? It wasn’t like that when I got mine about four years ago and hubby had no problems with renewing his at the same time. And I remember the good old days when you didn’t even need a passport to go into Mexico.
    P.S. While I’ve had my fair share of dealing with idiotic government employees, they aren’t all bad folks. My dad was an inspector with the USDA. Or maybe I should say “weren’t.” Today’s employees are a lot different than my dad and the guys he worked with.
    Hi Esther–
    I think your dad is right. They aren’t like they used to be. I’ve even got a confession to make: I used to work for the government. During summers when I was in college I worked for the U.S. Forest Service in Bridgeport, CA. And I worked like a dog. We fought fires for hours on end. We worked everyday during bad fire season and had to be available even when off. It was a great job for a kid, but it was hard work. I have no idea if it’s the same now or not in the Forest Service.
    When I was graduating from engineering school there were a lot of jobs on offer from both the public and the private sector.  The employment counselors explained the difference thus: in the private sector you will make more money, but will have fewer benefits and less job security; if you go to work for the government, you will make less money, but will have many benefits and a job for life.
    Now it looks like if you go to work for the government you make a lot of money, have all the benefits, and can’t get fired.  Which leads to non-productive employees.
    I remember reading in a medical management magazine several years ago an article by a medical practice efficiency consultant on how to hire good employees.  He wrote that you should carefully review the resumes of any prospective employees and if you noticed that any previous job from the past three years was a government job, you shouldn’t hire them because government jobs create bad, lazy employees.  I’ve always remembered that, and I’ve never hired a former government employee.

  5. Aside from the problems of power-drunk bureaucrats in general (not just here but in every country, IME), I think part of the problem is all the new red tape in processing the passport apps due to “Homeland Security”, plus the added increased volume of passport apps due to new requirements for passports that previously could be done with a valid ID (driver license, etc.).
    I’m thanking my lucky stars that we renewed ours a year or two ago and don’t have to face that for a while.
    Hope all goes well.
    Hi Anna–
    Thanks for your concern.  As you’ve probably figured, the kids aren’t the only ones stressed over this.
    I know there are complicating issues with all the departments involved, but someone somewhere needs to step up to the plate and make a decision.  It’s got to be pretty easy to see that the whole thing has become a dog’s breakfast, so why not delay the requirement to have a passport to go to Mexico and Canada a little longer until all these issues have been worked out.  Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do something like that, but it does require a little thought, something we have far too little of in government. 

  6. Would you quit with the politeness and tell us how you really feel? 😉
    I submitted my application in February as part of our adoption process, and as of today, I still don’t have it. My wife’s passport was delievered 3 weeks ago after being submitted around the same time.
    Fortunately, we have other paperwork lagging as well, but I can’t imagine what people actually trying to travel right now are going through.
    Like Amy, I just heard today about a local missions group having to go through a state Senator to get their passports in time.
    And now that we have these new “security” provisions, AA tells your daughter she can just bribe her way back into the country? Not to mention, she could probably walk right across the border anytime she pleases. Seems a few people do that every day. What’s the point again?
    What’s the point indeed?  Stupidity heaped upon incompetence and flavored with a large dollop of ignorance and I-don’t-care and you’ve got a serving of government customer service gumbo.

  7. not all the less qualified (read stupid) people are shuttled to the “helping depts” – many of them find jobs being the “first contact phone answerer” at the “persecuting depts”
    Hmmm.  I hadn’t thought of that.  Maybe I should add it as a corollary to the Eades Law of Government Hiring.

  8. Seems a bit tough on “government employees”!
    If congress passed a law that said all visitors to Mexico needed to have forms filled out by the Eades before they could be admitted, and you were overwhelmed by the requests, would that make you incompetent if it took you a long time to get those forms done?
    Yep.  And that’s an ignorant example because we’re two people, not an entire governmental department.  It’s not like the passport people didn’t know this was coming.  Just as the post office hires extra people around Christmas and the IRS hires extra people around April 15th, the jerks in the passport-issuing department could have done the same.  At the very least they could have put out a directive that there would be a long, long delay and that people should apply months and months in advance.
    Many people have spent a lot of money (our kids, for example) on non-refundable plane tickets and hotel reservations.  These folks have to either eat the costs and stay home or try to go and be stressed to the max.
    The whole situation is absolutely and positively inexcusable, and the government people who are causing the problem are total schmucks.  Since you are a defender of this kind of incompetence, methinks you might be employed by Uncle Sam yourself.  Maybe even in the passport-issuing department. If so, you should be ashamed.

  9. I was going on a cruise in the Bahamas in January, so I applied for my passport last summer.
    ‘nuf said about that.
    When I was a consultant in DC, I realized that the system trains government employees to be that way. Those whose job is not to harm you are rewarded only for failure; educators, driver’s license bureaucrats, welfare providers, postal workers, et cetera. If they are not getting things done fast enough, or well enough, they can claim they need their budget expanded. If they do things well, then funding is shunted away from them, to the people who are failing and therefore need more money.
    Meanwhile, of course, IRS agents, prosecuting attorneys, police officers (yes, ticket quotas are real), social workers, regulatory agents, and the like are all rewarded based on how many people/dollars they penalize, convict, et cetera, without regard for how many were actually guilty of something.
    This is one of an infinity of reasons why government is bad, and should be restricted to a passive, weak entity whose only job is to protect our property, and only when we wish it to be protected.
    Hi KAZ–
    Interesting insight that makes total sense.
    I agree with you one the function of government.  I would add that governments should provide for the national defense, which is, I suppose, protecting property on a grand scale.

  10. Wow….I have a close friend who just found out she’s going to Rome in July…flight and hotel expenses paid, can you believe it?
    She has applied for her passport and did pay extra for the expedited passport, but now I’m concerned!! I don’t know if I should warn her or not. I’d hate to get her upset…but yet feel like I should warn her.
    Hi Cindy–
    I would warn her because going to and coming from Italy may pose more of a problem than doing so in with Mexico.  She can try calling her senator and/or congressman to see if they can help.  At the very least she can get a certified copy of her birth certificate, which may help if the passport doesn’t arrive. She does have at least another month, so maybe it will come through.

    This is what really torques me about this whole situation.  Many people are going on the trip of a lifetime this summer that they’ve saved money for and applied for passports for plenty early.  They have – and this is my favorite statement by politicians – ‘played by the rules,’ yet they are going to get shafted by a bunch of incompetent bureaucrats and government drudges who can’t rise to the occasion when a change in the law takes place. I predict that as the real summer travel season arrives, there will be a major outcry.  It will be interesting to see what happens.  It’s early now and our kids are on the leading edge of the real travel time.
    Keep me posted.

  11. And this is a surprise because…? Government incompetence, whodathunkit! 😉
    In all seriousness, I’m glad your son & DIL got to Mexico OK after all. Guess the moral of the story is, be sure to apply for your passport at least 6 months in advance! Heck, maybe every American should get on the ball and get one, just in case.
    P.S. I renewed my passport in 2005 when I was living overseas, applied through the US Embassy, it took all of..10 days.

  12. Needed to get my passport renewed for a destination wedding. Called up a friend who is a Special Agent with the Dept. of State. He tried to use his magical powers which had worked before in the past. They did not work this time.
    Four weeks out I went to the postal acceptance office. The woman there told me to not risk getting lost in the system. Instead, she directed me to make an appointment with the regional offices. If you’re lucky, you’ll have one withing a few hour’s drive from your city. Fortunately, I had one a few minutes away. The only trick is that you are not allowed to make an appointment until EXACTLY 14 days before your departure.
    On the 14th day out (May 3rd), I called and went through a 10-minute menu on the phone and was given a May 8th appointment. Went down with all my documentation, photos and itinerary and waited 90 minutes. Bring a book if you do this.
    On May 11th, the passport was at my door, with several days to spare. Total cost was $67 for passport and $60 for expedite fee.
    Hi Pax–
    Thanks for the info.  I’m sure it will prove to be invaluable for the many who are desperately waiting for their passports now.
    Thanks for passing it along.

  13. Hi–
    The entire problem with this mess, is, why did we need passports? since 911, we have not had to have passports for things that we will need them for now, and there has not been a problem. requiring passports for north american travel, for instance, is a step backward.
    My husband and I worked for the federal govt., and he retired from federal service. We both had very low paying professional jobs, I take that back, I was a technician doing a professional job. We were proud of ourselves, and what we did. My husband was a forester, and a land appraiser. I remember him fighting forest fires in the cliffs along the Ohio River in Indiana, the mountains of N California, and in the peat country of Minnesota. He was not a smoke jumper, but it was part of the job. He spent untold hours teaching loggers about the timber sale contract so that they knew their rights. He stood up for resource protection and so did many of his colleagues. and all we ever get is ignorant people saying that govt. workers are stupid, crooked and low. and don’t tell me, well you weren’t, but everybody else is, because I have met dedicated, intelligent public servants in every civil service profession. too many people simply really enjoy being angry and meanspirted. they get off on spewing venom and govt workers are convenient.

  14. Dear Doctor Eades,
    I came across your website while researching problems with getting passports. It is really sad how f’d up our government is. My wife who has has been traveling to Europe with our two kids to visit her family for the last five years recently became a U.S. citizen on April 20th. (That process is a whole nother story)
    Anyway as a citizen she needs a U.S. passport. As she is hoping to leave on June 06, she applied the very next day. Like your DIL she paid the extra for expidited service & overnight delivery. Sadly we are going through the exact same thing that your DIL/son have.
    I wanted to share some of the extra insult, lack of concern and incompetance that we have received. For the last week we have been trying to call the information lines. We actually got through several time late at night after several hours on the phone. The first time the lady told us she was just a call center and could only take a message to e-mail an inquiry. Not much help since we had already done this through there website.
    The second time we got through (again late at night after hours on hold) some lady just told my wife “we don’t have time to talk to you so just call back”. Then she just hung up on my wife. I finally got through about an hour ago(or so I thought), only to have the person on the other end pretend they could not hear me and simply hang up. So I guess I really never did get through.
    Earlier today my wife went to our local congressman’s office and filled out some paper. They said they would inquire and get back to us by Monday, but after reading your story I am not holding out much hope.
    I spent about $3200 on non-refundable airfare for my wife and kids. Sadly I am probably going to lose this thanks to these idiots called our government.
    Anyway at least I know I am not the only one getting screwed. Hopefully as you said enough people will end up saying something that they will have to do something about this mess. As for me I am hoping to get fox news involved (wish me luck). As for you, I wish your son and DIL the best.
    Isaac Braun,
    Austin, TX
    Hi Isaac–
    Sorry to hear of your passport travails. I hope it works out for you.
    In reading some of the comments it appears that there are certain places that will issue passports more or less on the spot. In Texas that place, I think, is Houston. You may want to check it out.
    Good luck. I can only imagine your frustration. Multiply your aggravation times the thousands (maybe millions) of other people in the same boat, and then realize that your civil ‘servants,’ who are paid by your tax money and your passport fees couldn’t give a rat’s patoot over your predicament. That’s what I hate. There is no accountability and no consequence to these drudges. I’ve had multiple horrible experiences with U.S. Airlines, formerly America West Airlines, and I refuse to fly them any longer. If I do have to fly them because there is no other alternative, I’ll know to at least expect the worst and plan accordingly. We don’t have this option with our own government.; We have to take the hand it deals us, which is what annoys me the most.

  15. My husband and I are in the same situation. We are supposed to be going to Mexico for our 10th anniversary and my graduation from nursing school and as of today still no passport. I am so frustrated! We requested over 12 weeks ago and when I call the number all I get is rude customer service reps. Thanks for the advice about contacting state senator. Please post about the return of your son and DIL.
    Hi Lori–
    See the comment by Pax.  Maybe you can contact the center in your state that can expedite the process.
    Good luck.

  16. We are planning a big trip to Europe, leaving June 16. It’s a special trip in memory of my Grandmother.
    I took my kids to get their passports renewed back in March- it’s been over 11 weeks. After 3 days on that antiquated passport phone system, I finally got a person who transferred the passports to expedited- but with no idea when we would receive them. After another hour of phone tree hell, I got a back up appointment in S.F. for a same day passport- the day before we leave on our trip. That was the earliest appointment available. So now I have to drag the kids to S.F. (2 1/2 hours each way with no traffic…..) and spend all day there if the passports don’t come in time. I am going to try calling my senator on Monday. This is absolutely ridiculous.
    Welcome to dealing first hand with the U.S. Government when it actually counts.  Good luck with dealing with your senators.  Given their track records and levels of personal stupidity I wouldn’t put a lot of faith in either Dianne Feinstein or Barbara Boxer.  My guess is that you’ll be making the 2 1/2 hour drive to SF.
    Keep me posted.

  17. What I don’t understand is why do people even want to go to Mexico, or any other country. Is America so bad? Apply for the passport, let it happen, relax, then go where you like. Avoid the stress,go to the mountains, in the middle of Lake Tahoe on a boat is the most relaxing feeling. By the way, your sons video is awesome. thank you and him, I really enjoyed it and this web sight.
    Hi Oscar–
    The problem here is that people have made arrangements for trips, paid their money (in many cases non-refundable), and relied on advice from the government as to how long in advance they need to apply for passports in order to have them in time for their trip.  In many cases people have applied for their passports in advance of even arranging there trips.  And the government has screwed them, causing untold apprehension and angst and even trip cancellations.  It’s one thing if your told that by expediting your passport process will get you your passport in two weeks and you wait until 12 days before your trip to apply then get mad because it doesn’t arrive in time.  It’s another if you, like our DIL, applied for and paid the fee for an expedited passport 7 weeks before after being told it would take two weeks and not have it by your trip.
    Thanks for the kind words about the video.

  18. It sucks what happened to your DIL, but I think a lot of it is people get their passports when they’re getting ready to go somewhere and don’t realize the bumblefark such things have become, even if you do it in what you believe is plenty of time. Three years ago we were talking about going to Canada when we heard about the new rule about having to show passports when flying into Canada. We had made no concrete plans, but we went and got passports anyway … so we had them when we took the trip last year. I complained about it at the time (“you’re so anal!”) but in retrospect it was a smart thing to do. It’s always a good idea to have your passport handy–never know when you might have to flee the country!
    Precisely.  I always have my passport up to date.

  19. Turning your anger against government inefficiency onto the underpaid, overstressed individuals who have to cope not only with the inadequacies of the system but bear the anger of people who belives their own agenda is more important than anything else is unfair, unpleasant, and deserves introspective reflection.
    The fact that people, including terrorists, gangsters, criminals, and illegals could pass over certain borders with easily forgeable (and untraceable) documentation represented a HUGE hole in American security that should have been patched up loooooooong ago. Now, there will be a record of every border crossing, and this data can help identify suspicious activity, as well as cut down on a lot of illegal trafficking.
    The government announced and publicized changes to the passport policy at least 6 months in advance and further made it clear that there would be significant delays in processing times since everyone who freely crossed between US and its shared border countries would now require passports. Aside from that, it is just plain irresponsible to book international travel prior to having clearance to do so, no matter how much you *want* it.
    Any time these “underpaid, overstressed individuals” want to quit their miserable jobs and seek employment in the real world they can do it. But they don’t because they like the benefits, the realization that they can’t be canned for incompetence, and the money (FYI gov’t workers are far from underpaid). So I don’t shed tears for the overworked, underpaid government employee. I would suspect that most of them couldn’t get jobs in the private sector that gave them anywhere near the pay or benefits they receive working for Uncle Sam. Plus they would actually have to work.
    As I recall, none of the perpetrators of 9/11 had casually strolled across the Mexican or Canadian borders. They were all here with actual passports. And, according to FBI whistle blowers the government should have been onto them long before except the FBI and the CIA were engaged in a turf war. In my opinion the feds should spend more time enforcing the laws on the books rather than create new laws in an effort to show that they’re doing something that ensnare law-abiding Americans trying to plan their vacations.
    If “the government announced and publicized changes to the passport policy at least 6 months in advance and further made it clear that there would be significant delays in processing times” it would have been nice had they informed their own agents. The woman at the place where my daughter-in-law got her passport told the DIL that she shouldn’t even pay the $15 for overnight delivery because she would get her passport in two weeks and she didn’t have to leave until six weeks later. In fact, the lady even tried to talk her out of paying the money to expedite the thing, telling her she would receive the passport within four weeks, plenty of time in advance of her trip. If the drudges working for the government don’t get the message that involves their own department, why should regular working Americans be expected to know and understand all the rules and regs?
    And in your world (I smell a government employee lurking there somewhere) it may be irresponsible to plan an international trip “prior to having clearance to do so,” but most normal, working people don’t operate that way. Few people sit around one day and say: I think I’ll go get a passport just for the hell of it. Most people decide to make a trip, or are given a trip as a gift, or win a trip in a raffle, and start figuring out all the things they have to do to make it work. They need to arrange time off from work; they need to find someone to watch the kids and/or the pets; they need to make reservations at hotels and make flight arrangements; and, if the trip is international, they need to get a passport. They check, and they find out from the passport people that it takes about a month – two weeks if expedited – and they plan appropriately. Then, like our son and DIL they get sucked into this Kafkaesque government-induced nightmare from which there is no escape.
    You can blame the average Joe for not acting far in advance if you want, but I stick with my judgment that the place is run by incompetent slugs.
    All the best–

  20. I think it is crazy to expect that the average US citizen who for years has been told it is a 4 week process to know that he/she should allow MONTHS to get a passport for a simple trip to Canada that required only a certified Birth Cert and a driver license for as long as I can remember.
    My fiance and I made plans to be married in March 2007 in BC. The first week in January 2007 I applied for a passport because we wanted to fly into Vancouver. I was told getting it before our flight date of March 19th would not be a problem and like your DIL was told that paying the fee to expedite it was a waste of money. The 15th of March rolls around and I still did not have a passport. Calls to the passport office, disconnects, etc happened over and over. I went to my local passport office to see what could be done and where it was in process. No one could tell me anything and gave me the same phone number to call. Bottom line was we had to call our airline (Alaska Airlines), change our tickets to fly into Seattle, switch to Amtrak and travel by train to Vancouver. THAT cost us an additional $500 dollars just for the plane tickets plus more for the round trip Amtrak tickets and cab fares, etc. The sad part is, it is now the first week of June and I still do not have my passport. 4 weeks, huh? riiiiight……
    Hi Jonathan–
    Next time April 15th rolls around maybe you should simply not send in your tax return.  Whenever the IRS calls to find out what happened, ignore the calls or just disconnect them.  Or put on a phone message that says ‘I”m really busy right now, call back later.’  Then when you finally do talk to them several months past the due date, tell them that you were a lot busier than you thought you would be at tax time and just didn’t have time right then to get your return completed and sent off.  Tell them that you will send it as soon as your work load settles down and you have the time to get it finished and mailed.
    See what kind of response you get when the tables are turned.
    It’s okay for the gov’t to screw us around at will and blame it on workload or whatever, but they certainly don’t afford us the same out when dealing with them.
    Sorry you’ve had so much trouble.

  21. Another wrinkle in the planning ahead game is when you travel to countries that require a visa. When I went to China, I had to send my passport to the Chinese consulate so that they could attach their visa to it and then it was sent back to me. Imagine what a nightmare that would have been if I had been waiting on a passport that failed to show up when expected and I wasn’t able to get it to the consulate in time to obtain my visa.
    Indeed!  I know someone whose passport expires in September and who is planning a trip to China in August.  She’s afraid to renew her passport for the very reason you described.  She’s worried, though, that the Chinese won’t give her a visa with only a month left on her passport.

  22. Just a thought – is it possible to sue the U.S. government? I’m thinking perhaps not, otherwise there would & should be a pretty sizeable class-action lawsuit in the works given all the frustration paired with financial losses incurred from canceled travel plans.
    I’m in the same boat as many of you, traveling soon and anxiously waiting for passports for my entire family. We applied over 10 weeks ago and were assured we had ample time for processing. It took them over a month to cash our checks. I should have known better. Now we have to wait for the two-week mark and go to the regional office (if we can even get an appointment). Not exactly my idea of a good start to a vacation.
    Hi Jen–
    Sorry for your travails.  I hope your passports come in time.

  23. I feel everyones pain. I applied for my wifes passport on March 12th and it is still not here yet. I have my congressman’s office working on it.
    It is amazing to me how we can live in a world where Dell can create, box and ship a laptop computer in a week but our government can’t ship a passport in 13 weeks.
    What confounds me even more is the fact that millions of Americans want our government to take over our health care. Passports are one thing but waiting for health care can be a life or death situation. I can just see my Dad’s pace maker battery giving out and being told by a “underpaid, overstressed individuals” not to worry your battery will be expedited. Folks, plan your escape route.
    Hi Tony–
    My sentiments exactly.
    Good luck.

  24. Well i just got off the phone with the national passport agency after calling over and over again the past 4 hours straight. Me and my GF applied for our passport 8 weeks ago and was told by the lady we would receive them in 6 weeks. Its now 15 days before we leave and still no passport. My stress level is through the roof since our 3000 that we paid is non refundable to travel to Cancun. The whole call in for everything situation is a complete mess. You get hung up on by an operator over and over again while waiting to talk to somebody. When i finally got through to make an automated appointment i checked 3 different days and none were available so the system hung up on me. Said forget the appointment and used the “9 zero trick” to avoid getting hung up on by the csr’s. finally talked to a lady who sent an email to the agency to expedite our passports. she told me if i dont receive them 2 days before we leave to call back for other options. wtf is that why do i have to wait 2days before. i plan on calling my congressman david drier tomorrow in hopes of getting this thing expedited asap.
    Also does anybody know if you go to the 2 week appointment thing do you have to pay all the fees again??? since ive already paid them once seems like they should just hand me my passport!!!! bastards!
    Hi Stephen–
    I can certainly understand your frustration.  I hope that it works out for you.
    Since it is Mexico you’re going to, if the passports don’t come, maybe you can do as my DIL did and simply take your driver’s licenses and certified copies of your birth certificates and make it through.
    Good luck.

  25. I actually hugged the fedex guy today. My kids’s passports just came. Worrying incessantly seems to be the key for me- along with a little OCD. Here’s what I did. (See my June 2 reply)
    I had my kid’s passports changed to expedite on Friday, June 1. (Each time the voice came on telling me to call back later, I hit 931 and it put me back into the system automatically without having to redial. I also made the regional office appointment as a last ditch effort.
    When they change the status to expedite- they send an email to wherever. As I understand it, once they send the email it takes several days to be opened. Mine wasn’t opened until the 6th (yesterday). I called Monday-got no info. Called yesterday and was informed the email had been read earlier that morning). Actually received the passports today.
    Good luck and keep dialing.
    btw- i was told you don’t have to pay the fees again, because you have already paid. BUT, do you have another birth cert? If not you’ll need to get another one for the same day appointment.
    Thanks for a place to vent.
    Hi jduvy–
    I’m glad you vented.  I’m sure many others will benefit from your information.  Thanks very much for taking the time to write.
    I’m glad you got your passports.

  26. It has been 14 weeks since I applied. My trip to Europe is less than 2 weeks away. The status shows ‘processing’, but good lord, how long does it take? My biggest grievance is the fact that I can’t speak to anybody in the passport agency about it. so frustrating.

  27. news report 6/7/07
    A proposal, expected to be announced Friday, will temporarily waive a requirement that U.S. citizens have passports to fly to and from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda, provided the traveler can prove he or she has already applied for a passport, officials said Thursday.
    The temporary lifting of the passport rule is aimed at clearing a massive backlog of passport applications at the State Department that has slowed processing to a crawl, they said. Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., said the suspension would last until the end of September.
    The plan had run into opposition from the Homeland Security Department, which controls U.S. border points and fears the move could make it easier for terrorists or other undesirables to enter the country, the officials said.
    Instead of a passport, travelers will now be able to present a State Department receipt showing their passport application is being processed, and a government-issued ID such as a driver’s license.
    Thanks for posting, Chris–
    I’m sure this will make many people very happy.

  28. I found this website while looking for info on the passport mess. Boy, am I sorry I read all these posts! My son and I applied for our passports on Mar. 17 for a June 20 trip. I was told 8 weeks at the most. Well it’s coming up on 12 weeks. After days and days of calling, I finally got through to the automated appointment line only to find out there are no appointments avaiable….at all….at my local passport office. I called for four hours non-stop today and finally got a human being on the line. She checked the status and said our passport applications are in two different cities and they haven’t started to process them yet. She said she would expedite the passports, but it could still take more than four weeks. She explained that as of today, it is taking 18 weeks to get a passport. She also suggested I try calling the appointment line between 6:00 and 6:30 Eastern Time (3:00 a.m. here on the West Coast) in the hopes that someone cancels their appointment. The problem with that is that I am a naturalized citizen and will need my original naturalization certificate, which of course was sent off with my passport application. Now what do you think the chances are that I can get ICE/Homeland Security to give me another duplicate original certificate (even if I was willing to fork over the $380 fee) within the next week? I can tell you that it took two years to get the certificate I sent off due to dealing with another incompetent government agency (but that’s a whole other story). Anyway, back to my dilemma. The passport customer service agent told me that people are camping out on the streets of Chicago for days to get their passports. Guess I’d better dust off our sleeping bags (oh yeah, since my son is 9, he has to apply for his renewal in person so he gets to tag along too) and head for the Federal Building. Like others, if I don’t get the passports, I’m out over $3,000 for non-refundable airfares and hotels, not to mention that there will be a very disappointed elderly lady in Scotland who’s been so looking forward to seeing her grandson.
    P.S. There was dismal article on the topic in today’s LA Times – http://travel.latimes.com/articles/la-trw-passports7june7
    Hi Kelly–
    Good luck.  I wish you well and hope your passport comes in time.  The situation is a total outrage.
    Thanks for the article from the LA Times.  I may post on it.

  29. good news:
    They decided to suspend the need of a passport for travel to Mexico and Canada as long as you show up with proof that you have applied for a passport. Meaning you need a receipt or a print out from the passport website travel.state.gov! When i woke up and saw this today a huge sigh of relief came upon me! thank you for this website and all the info provided here! ill let you guys know my trip experience when i get back in a few weeks!
    I’m glad it’s worked out for you.  Have fun on your trip. 

  30. Our family of 5 had reservations to travel to the Caribbean. 2 members of our family were still waiting for passports when word came that proof of application from the State Departments web site and a government issued id would suffice. We were relieved. We left on our trip this past Saturday 6/9 made it all the way to our destination and were denied access into the country. We were escorted back to the plane, flown to Philly, spent and night in a hotel and flew home Sunday morning…no vacation and no luggage. We, too, spent many long hours prior to our trip, spoke to our Senators and have been waiting over 13 weeks for our passports. Our loss and experience is indescribable.
    Hi Ellie–
    I’m sorry you had such a nightmare experience.  I’m surprised the airline personnel let you on the plane in the US.  They should know what the rules  and regs are in the country to which they are flying.  The people at the airline our DIL flew to Mexico told her that the Mexican authorities would accept the documentation she had.  The whole thing sucks, and you can pretty much be sure that most of the people responsible couldn’t care less.

  31. The passport and travel problems stem from the State Departments inability to deliver services ie. passports delivered in time. We spent countless hours on the phone with the same experience many have encountered, “we’re working on your passports, we intend for you to have them in time for your trip etc, etc. We had the opportunity to cancel the trip 1 hour before departure had we known that entrance into Turks and Caicos would be denied. Of course that never happened because we made it all the way to our destination. I can say that customs in Turks and Caicos wanted a copy of a birth certificate which of course was with our passport applications. We tried to convince them that a valid birth certificate was necessary for passport application. They would not listen or make any effort to be accommodating. The US State Department has not made it clear that anything beyond the proof of application and the id would be necessary. This stems from the hurry to satisfy travelers needs and their lack of accommodating their customers with the product. OOOPS!!! In some way it seems that they should be responsible for the delays and loses people are experiencing. Of course the ordinary person that has gone to work everyday and saved and saved loses.
    Hi Ellie–
    I agree; they should be responsible.  But fat chance in getting them to pay up.

  32. This passport ordeal has been extremely frustrating. We are waiting for our passport so we can go to Europe. We leave in a week but have no idea if the passport will arrive on time. We sent in the application 10 weeks ago. Calling seems useless as they can’t tell you a thing.
    The government is out of control. They make mandates without funding or planning for resources. This is just awful.
    I couldn’t agree more.  I hope you get your passports in time.  Have you tried the regional office for your area?

  33. I too am having a problem receiving my passport, which I sent for in March. Since then, I have frequently checked the status of my passport online; the agency didn’t even begin to process it until the end of April. Now, with a departure date of June 16 (this Saturday = in 3 days), I am just crushed at the thought of missing out on my trip to Peru and losing the thousands of dollars my husband and I have put towards this trip. I tried contacting someone from my local Congressman’s office, and she also gave the passport agency a call. As of now, my passport is still “being processed” and no one can tell me if it will make it to me on time. I have dedicated so much time and energy towards finding out where my passport is—more than I had to put towards planning my trip. But now I feel like this is a lost cause and all of my time and energy were in vain. Please let me know if you have any suggestions.
    BTW, I did read in today’s paper that the government will refund expiditing fees, which is a huge surprise!
    Hi Linda–
    Sorry to hear of your plight.  The only suggestion I can offer is to contact your regional office as suggested by other commenters on these passport snafu posts.
    I would bet that if everyone in your position emailed the Secretary of State (the State Department is responsible for the passport fiasco) hourly, the situation would get much more attention.  And copied congress person and senators on each email. 
    And it is an enormous surprise that the fed is even contemplating refunding expediting fees, much less actually planning on doing so.
    I hope your passport comes through. 

  34. I applied for a passport for my 13 year old son in early April. We were told 8-10 weeks and that it was not necessary to pay the extra to expedite it. He is going on a group trip through his summer camp to Canada on June 27th. At the time we were told he’d need a passport as a gov’t issued ID like you can get from DMV for people who don’t drive or are not old enough was unacceptable. To make matters worse, he was adopted from Korea as an infant so we had to submit every original piece of information we have on our son with his application. That includes his Cert. of Birth, adoption papers, original visa and his green card. If I had any of these I might be able to get him a non driver’s license ID but now that is impossible, too.
    I have been trying to get through to the Passport Office since Monday and finally got through after two days of redialing late last night. All they could tell me was that it is in a “lock box” in New Hampshire and they have no idea how long it will take. I was also told it is 12-14 weeks from the time it is processed (when they cash the check) not from when we submitted the application, so instead of the 8-10 weeks from April 9, in reality it’s 12-14 weeks from the date the cashed my check (may 9th!) That was what amounted to the “assistance” they give me. After I said that to the customer service she said, “I am done with you” and just hung up.
    I have contacted both my Congressman and Senator’s offices and they are both working on this for me.
    Couldn’t even get through this morning to see if I could get an in person appt, in NYC. Got the dreaded, “we are too busy to take your call.”
    An absolute nightmare brought to you courtesy of your public ‘servants’ who, I’m sure, don’t lose a moments sleep over it.

  35. I was able to get through to Passport office again this afternoon and got a lovely women whose first response was. “let me think for a minute how I can best help”, and then preceded to take down all the information and then issued an Urgent Upgrade to New Hampshire office(which contained everything regarding the situation and which she read to back to me so I would know what she was sending).She said she couldn’t promise and told me that sometimes it gets the ball rolling but sometimes not.
    I know it’s still not a done deal but I’m hoping this, along with Senator Schummer’s office’s contact, I will get it in time.
    She was so nice I asked her if there was someone in the Passport Office I could email to tell them of her excellent (in light of the how I and others have been treated by agents) customer service but sadly there isn’t. So the employees who try to help can’t even get acknowledged.
    My advice to others besides calling their represenative is to keep redialing the 877 number and don’t listen to the whole message, hang up as soon as the recording says something like “due to the high volume…” and the just keep on hitting the redial on your phone. You will here a slightly different message and may still have to redial a few times after that but I was able to get through doing that after only 1/2 hour this afternoon.
    Thanks for your story, Emily–
    I’m sure many others will find it helpful.
    Good luck.  I’ve got my fingers crossed for you.

  36. I feel everyones pain. While I am writing this comment I am crying out of frustaration. I sent in my application on April 2nd with my trip being on June 21st. I was told I have more then enough time to receive my passport. Well that’s not the case right now. I am naturalized citizens and I had to send my original certificate with my passport application. I am basicly stuck right now. I can’t go to passport agency since I don’t have original certificate. This is not a getaway vaction for me. I have dying grandmother that’s waiting for me to see me one more time before she is gone, but I have a feeling her wishes might not come true. I have been calling and calling and all they kept saying is you are in a early stage. It’s over 10 weeks and I am still in a early stage. I have contacted my congressman and they did call as well just to get same answer as me. They can’t do anything until my application is in processing. Once they start processing application then they can send a message to agent to expedite your passport. Until then keep calling.
    I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.
    Good luck.

  37. My daughter sent in her renewal of passport on March 17. We have yet to recieve the renewal. I dont understand why a renewal should take so long. The family (4 of us) will be leaving June 23 for Ukraine to visit my daughter in the Peace Corps.
    I have spent countless hours on the phone and finally called our Congressman jeff Miller.
    I only wish I had hired a passport expidite service.
    Our regional passport office is in Miami a 10+ hour drive away.
    Hi Elaine–
    I wish you luck.  I didn’t even know that passport expediter services existed.

  38. Elaine, try this number 202-647-4000. I found it on another blog. It is the State Dept. Passport Office and Consulate Affairs Task Force. And, believe it or not they answer on the first ring. I spoke with a person today who took my info and told me if I don’t get my kids passport by Tuesday to call back and they will put in Urgent Update. Also mention that you are working with your Congressman, too so they have that info and things don’t get “more” mucked up because of all the hands in the fire. The number is 202-647-4000.

  39. Today is Thursday and we are suppose to leave for a trip to Costa Rica this coming Monday.
    Sent our passports in to be renewed in March and still no sign of them. We have been calling daily and had the operator say she would issue an urgent to the passports.
    Apparentley they were in New
    Hampshire and had not been printed yet.
    I am hoping we are not out of luck since the hotel is non-refundable.
    You should be able to get into Costa Rica with a state-issued picture ID and your receipt that you applied for your passport.  At least that’s what I’ve been reading.
    Good luck.

  40. An update to my earlier post and a few tips from the lessons I learned. I applied Mar. 17. Got my son’s passport on Tuesday and mine is out priority mail for delivery on Monday (we leave on Wed. Jun 20).
    First, forget about the “877” number. Call 606-526-7600. It’s a direct line to the passport agency. You’ll immediately be placed on hold, but you’ll get through pretty quickly. If you don’t want to incur the long distance charges, dial the “877” number, don’t hang up when you get the “call volume” message. Press 9-3-1 and you’ll get right back in the loop. Next, call the passport task force in DC at 202-647-7948. They’re very helpful and will get involved to expedite if you’re traveling within 72 hours. My passport was in New Hampshire and I called them directly at 603-334-0523. Someone answered, took my info, then I got a call back within 2 hours saying my passport was expedited and would be sent out priority mail the next day. I also kept calling my congressman. And start calling everyone early!!! Don’t wait until the 14 days before that the passport agency suggests. Get on it and stay on it.
    Good luck to those who are waiting!!
    Hi Kelly–
    Thanks on behalf of all those waiting in desperation.  I’m sure your info will be tremendously helpful.

    I’ve used your comment as an actual post so that more will see it.

  41. I applied for a renewal of my passport on March 26th. I am leaving for Italy on June 22nd. On June 11th at 7:15am it was expedited. The earliest appointment I can get at the passport Center in D.C. is at 9:30 am, the same day that I depart! It’s hard to imagine that given the incompetence of this system that I will waltz our of there with a new passport in enough time to catch my plane. If ever there was an argument against government regulation of health care, this is it. The people answering the phone are very nice but not very helpful. I am trying very hard not to panic!
    See today’s post.
    Good luck. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.


  42. Does anyone know if people are actually being issued passports when they go to the regional office. A customer service representative said “yes,” but I find this hard to believe. I applied in March and am leaving in 7 days. The earliest appointment I could get was the day of my departure. I called the 202 647-4000 number mentined in one of the postings above, but they too now have an automated message for people with passport problems and are not very helpful. I’ve expedited it and have my Congressman’s office working on this too, but any other suggestions? I am going to a medical conference in Italy with my kids. They have their passports, which had to be renewed earlier than mine, so no problem there. Do you know of anyone in my position who has done everything right (applied in March) who has NOT been able to travel because the passport did not come, AND the regional office was not able to “make” a passport in enough time?
    Hi Eileen–
    No, I don’t know of anyone personally.
    Take a look at today’s post.  Maybe you can get some help there.
    Good luck, and let us know if it works for you.


  43. I tried the new #’s posted by Kelly(above), the first was is a rotating # that worked 1 time ,but not the next. So I called the passport task force at 202-647-7948. They will help you if you are traveling within the week. I spoke with them Monday about a 14 week renewal(and traveling to Ukraine on 6/23). They were very helpful. I received my daughter’s passport today.
    Thanks you so much Kelly. Oh, and thanks everyone else.
    Hi Elaine–
    I know you’re relieved.  Thanks for writing.  Have fun on your trip.

  44. Good morning,
    I just read your article and I have “zero” sympathy for my fellow Americans currently going through this passport issue. The change to the passport rules for Mexico and Canada has been well known for the past couple of years. The Auto Club and AARP have been alerting its members to this rule change frequently as soon as it was known. I’ve seen other ads for it as well. I have traveled all over the world and dealt with obtaining other countries Visas and I get to work on the necessary paperwork months before I leave. For your DIL to only begin to try and get a passport 6 weeks before her flight is shocking. I’m sure she began planning this trip more than 6 weeks prior. At that time she should have begun the necessary passport paperwork!
    This is another example of people procrastinating and then deferring their personal responsibility on another entity.
    No, I do not work for the government. I work for a private company.
    Hello Tom–
    Actually my DIL started planning her trip only after going to the passport place to renew her passport where she was told that her passport would get to her in 6 weeks at the latest and in two weeks if she expedited, which she did.  Once she got her passport in the queue she began planning the trip to Mexico, which she scheduled for almost 7 weeks later just to make certain she would have her passport in time.
    It may come as a big surprise to you, but the vast majority of people applying for passports are not members of AARP nor of the Auto Club, so the fact that these entities alerted their members that there could be a problem was immaterial to nonmembers.  Most people get their information from other people.  I would imagine that almost everyone in this bind had called a friend or relative who had recently gotten a passport and asked how long it took.  Had the DIL called me, I would have told her that the last time I got a passport it took about 10 days expedited.
    The fault here is not irresponsibility on the part of the people seeking passports; it’s massive incompetence in the people running the passport section at the State Department.  And I don’t know how you can say that people who applied 10-12 weeks in advance for a passport that usually takes a few weeks are irresponsible.

  45. Fyi Tom, I had no idea my son’s camp was going to take the senior boys on a bus trip to Canada until I got a letter from them in March telling me about the trip. When I applied for his passport the new rules were still in effect and along with his application all his documents had to be submitted too – so even the relaxing of the rules didn’t help us. Also, since neither my husband nor I have any plans to take our child abroad (he can wait until he is in college like we did) there was no reason he needed a passport until this trip. And we were told at the post office when we applied in early March that it would take 6-8 weeks at most.Not everyone knows in advance when they will be traveling. Things happen that even the most conscientious can’t control.
    My parents our going to Italy in October. They applied to renew their passports in February but as they didn’t have any travel arrangements yet put no date for intended travel on their application. They only booked their trip last month. It has been 4 months since they applied and they still haven’t received their passports and I’m sure because there is no travel date on the application they will be in the same boat as everyone else is right now just in October.
    Goods news did come today from my Congressman’s office that my son’s passport is being Fed Exed today (I even have a tracking #) and I should get it tomorrow. Passport Task Force, as of last night could do nothing but tell me it was still in a “lockbox” and I had been calling them for over a week for help. Also called New Hampshire directly on Monday, was promised a call back which never came either. Thankfully had both my Congressman and Sen. Schumer’s office working on
    it apparently that worked in my case.

  46. This is for Thomas Q… My daughter had a passport that was to expire in April of 07. So we reapplied for a renewed passport in March 07. Renewals are usually quick because the info is on the orig. passport.
    I am a member of AAA and I was not informed of poss. delays and when I spoke to the post office personnal when we delivered the paper work they were not aware of the long delays.
    According to the news, the State Department underestimated the numbers by 1.5 million. I also read the Citi Bank who collects the cks and forms, held the forms then flooded the passport handlers at the State Dept. with 1 million forms all at once.
    I am not going to point fingers. There are many
    people to blame. Besides, when you point a finger- three are pointing back at you TQ.

  47. Your DIL was very lucky. My daughter has a trip planned to Italy in 4 days (Monday). She is the first of 25 cousins to graduate college and this trip was a surprise from her aunt and uncle after years of saving. She applied for her passport over 10 weeks ago and was assured she did not need expedited service. She’s been calling daily for weeks and contacted Congressman Kirk’s office 2 weeks ago. No one has been able to help. Finally today someone indicated that it had been moved to expedited status but it was unlikely that she would receive it in time. They suggested that she try to get an appt. somewhere else in the country at a regional office to see if they might issue an emergency one. Unfortunately they told her that wasn’t an option until you were within 2 business days of travel and at that point no appointments are available anywhere. No one at the passport office who speaks with customers has any ability to do anything other than send e mails to the final decision makers. The incompetence and failure to plan adequately for this anticipated surge in applications is astounding. Apparently my daughter will lose out on the trip of a lifetime. Great reward for 4 years of hard work.
    Hi Jane–
    The only thing of possible value to your daughter from this whole nightmare experience is that she has learned to not depend upon government for anything.

  48. After submitting my comments last night I tried some of the numbers listed above and left messages where I could. I also e mailed Sen. Obama and Sen. Dick Durbin’s offices. One of them must have helped as I got a call at 6:30 this morning that her passport was being issued today and we’d have it via Fed Ex tomorrow. Many thanks for the advice above.
    Hi Jane–
    Glad you got squared away.

  49. June 21st
    Just started calling today 14 days before a month long trip to Europe. I have included all tips so that it may help others.
    National Passport Center 1-877-487-2778
    Passport status requests 1-606-526-7600
    Washington passport desk at 202-647-7948.
    US Consular Task Force (WATCH DOG) 202-647-7948
    US Department of State phone directory unclassified
    The following is a list of the abbreviations you will see next to the employees name in the directory. Assuming you know where it’s being processed look for the following. Once you have found someone make sure you have your passport locater number, name, DOB, SS# ready.
    CA/PPT…………………………………………………….Office of Passport Services CA/PPT/BN…………………………………………………..Boston Passport Agency CA/PPT/CG………………………….……………………..Chicago Passport Agency CA/PPT/HH……………………..…………………………Honolulu Passport Agency CA/PPT/HN……………………………….………………..Houston Passport Agency
    CA/PPT/LA………………………………………….…Los Angeles Passport Agency CA/PPT/MM…………………………………………….……..Miami Passport Agency CA/PPT/No…………………………………………….New Orleans Passport Agency
    CA/PPT/NPC……..……………………National Passport Center, Portsmouth, NH CA/PPT/NY……….……………………….………………New York Passport Agency CA/PPT/PA…………………….………………………Philadelphia Passport Agency CA/PPT/SE……….………………….……………………….Seattle Passport Agency
    CA/PPT/SF……………………..……………………San Francisco Passport Agency CA/PPT/SIA…………………………………………….……Special Issuance Agency CA/PPT/SM……………………….……………………….Stamford Passport Agency CA/PPT/WN…………………………………………….Washington Passport Agency
    Email your congressman at http://www.house.gov/
    Email your Senator http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
    Just for fun call
    Maura Harty. Her line is 202-647-9576.
    Update: 25th of june
    Update: Just read this last night on the state travel site:
    We have finished processing your passport, and it has been mailed to you.
    You requested delivery by regular mail. Passport Agencies use Priority Mail. This means you should receive your passport on or about 06/30/2007.
    That would be 4 days before my trip… We will see
    Update: June 26th
    Final update!!!
    Just called the talk force and they gave me a fed ex tracking number that says the following:
    Jun 26, 2007 8:10 am
    On FedEx vehicle for delivery
    How happy am i!!! Wooohooo
    I have renewed faith in our system!!! With deepest sorrows for all of you who haven’t received your passports in time for your trip. And to those who are panicking use the task force at 202-647-7948. Ask for Jamie or Dave they are great!!! Thank you all.
    Hi Michael–
    Thanks on behalf of all the readers who will get their passport due to this info that you’ve uncovered and passed along. I’m going to use part of your comment for a post all its own. Hope you don’t mind.
    Best and thanks again.

  50. First, I would like to thank Kelly (#42) and Mike (#51), although I found the latter after I have finally received the passport. The information offered was very valuable helping to make me feel little better and more in control. Calling the main Passport office # was like praying to Santa Claus, or a “black hole”, feeling totally lost in a Kafka’s Castle. Being doomed no matter what you do…
    I was very stressed out with passport renewal problems. My passport was valid till Jan, 8, 08, but the travel agency insisted that we need to have 6 months left after departure from South Africa (I had over 5 months). Anyway, on March 30, I have applied for a new passport and 11 weeks later it was not coming. I have called legislators, Governor’s office, Clinton’s office, public advocate, representatives, you name it. I must have spent at least 50 hours on it including calling passport office where nobody responded and than the New Hampshire # where I finally got a response from a human. It looked like that I will not be able to go and we would lose all the money (travel insurance that we did get would cover only sickness not this). Anyway passport finally did come on Friday 6/22 one week before our departure and I drove to FedEx office to pick it up.. I don’t know what finally helped and I made sure to call back and thank everyone who tried to help. The irony is that South Africa only insists on one month after departure and two empty pages in the passport. Maybe I did not have to go through this hell and I could have used my old passport? I do not know if Americans require the whole 6 months when returning back to the USA from another country. Anybody knows?
    Hi Vera–
    I’m glad you got your passport in time.  I’m sure it’s a huge load off your mind.
    Thanks for giving us the report. 

  51. I read post #51 and 42 also and when I called the task force I found out that they are inputting “000-00-0000” for ssn to expedite the app process in some instances. we mailed our renewal on may 1 and nothing was in the system. after talking to a supervisor at the 202 number she provided a letter. this was on friday. this morning at 930 cst, fedex delivered my wifes passport.
    Hi Jeff–
    I’m glad you got it in time.

  52. I cannot say how grateful I’m to all the wonderful message posted on this website. I got my passport this morning (07/23). My travel date is early morning (07/26). I called Phaedra at the task force 1-202-647-7948 last Friday (07/20). Apparently, the systems worked. Phaedra told me my passport was processed and approved on Saturday. I actually got a false scare Sunday afternoon when the on-line status showed my application changed from expedited-service to regular service. I know I’m incoherent because I still cannot believe the system can work so effectively! I am a naturalized US citizen in June. I really love this country more now.
    Hi Kevin–
    I’m very happy that it all worked out for you.  Enjoy your trip.

  53. I am so glad i found this site as now I feel better knowing I am truly not alone in this passport mess! We are leaving on a family trip to Portugal on 8/2. After many calls and tons of time on hold we were able to get my husband’s passport 2 days ago after he submitted for his renewal 12 weeks ago. He did not pay for expedited service as at that time we were still being told it would take 8-10 weeks. Now however, we are waiting on my daughters passport. She is 2 months old so needless to say, we couldn’t apply to far in advance (we’ve been planning this trip since March). We submitted her paperwork, paid the expedited fee and for express delivery both ways. We still have not received hers. I’d also like to point out that I fibbed and told them we were leaving today. I am a government contractor and make it a practice to always give myself a “buffer”. Each time I call someone tells me something different. I actually spoke to a woman yesterday at the 877 number that told me because I keep calling to check the status, and they’ve send emails prioritizing our passport, I’ve slowed down the process! What!?!? I have called my congressmans office and they are also trying to help us. I now have 1 week until my “true” travel date. I am so grateful for all the info everyone has submitted here. I’m going to try the task force first thing in the morning. We also heard that the Washington Agency takes walk-ins on Mondays- does anyone know anything about that? We were able to get an appt. but its on Wed, the day prior to our travel.
    If we are unable to travel we will not only be missing out on seeing my family but my cousins wedding as well as my daughters baptism.
    Hi Ana–
    I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.  I’m glad you got some ideas from this site.  When I posted about my daughter-in-law’s experience, I never dreamed that my blog would become the passport help center.  But I’m glad it did.  I hope it works for you.
    Keep me posted.

  54. Hello,
    It’s nice to know that I am not the only one in passport purgatory!
    I don’t know where to turn.
    I am a U.S. citizen residing in Canada and the 877 helpline doesn’t work from here (although it doesn’t sound like I’m missing much!).
    My local U.S. embassy/consular services office just gives me automated links to irrelevant depts. or back to generic U.S. sites and #’s.
    I applied to renew my passport almost FOUR months ago. This week I received a letter stating that they required proof of name-change. I have ALREADY submitted an original document with my application. It sounds like they have LOST it!!!!!!
    I am livid and frustrated and don’t know what to do now.
    Hi June–
    Passport purgatory?  Sounds more like passport hell to me.
    Hope you get it all straightened out without too much more brain damage.

    Ok, I found a generic e-mail status-check form on the State Dept. website. After three tries, I finally got a human response. At first they wouldn’t give me any info. Then they said I should contact the New Hampshire office, even though I applied to the Philadelphia office.
    Then one e-mail said they couldn’t find my application at all, but today they said the New Hampshire office sent it out yesterday!!!
    So I am happy, but not completely happy, if you know what I mean. I don’t trust them to have the correct info., especially after that bizarre and disjointed e-mail exchange.
    So things are looking up, but I won’t breathe a sigh of relief until it lands in my mailbox!!
    I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you.

  56. Thank you for the e-mail address your site has provided:
    It was enormously helpful!!!
    I am a U.S. citizen residing in Canada, and applied to renew my passport more than three months ago.
    The State Dept. 877 number doesn’t work in Canada (but it doesn’t sound like I’m missing much!) and I couldn’t get a useful human response via the various web forms I filled out to inquire about my status.
    One e-mail told me they needed my birthday to track it (even though it was clearly on the web form they responded to!). Another said they had no record of my application. One told me to contact the New Hampshire office, even though I sent my application to Philadelphia, and it appeared that some important supporting documents had been lost by them.
    I was ready to scream….
    but after writing to the littlefield address above, I got an IMMEDIATE response within 24 hours, and was told my application had been upgraded to “expedite” and my passport was FedExed yesterday!
    Thanks again for your website. It is not only helpful, but therapeutic. It’s nice to know that I am not the only one in passport purgatory.
    Hi June–
    I’m glad you finally got some action.  What a nightmare.  Sorry you had to go through it. And I’m glad this site helped in some small way.


  57. The real problem is not an incompetent government (although it clearly exacerbated the problem) but the number of Last-Minute Lucy’s running to get their passports 2 weeks before they travel. Who in their right mind would plunk down thousands of dollars on a vacation – planning MONTHS ahead to purchase tickets, reserve hotels etc. and then wait until 2 weeks (or even 6 weeks) before they travel to take care of arrangements necessary to get back into the country? Apparently everyone as indicated by the many examples above. The government’s error was in not anticipating the number of disorganized people that would be applying for passports at the last minute. That sudden and ongoing increase in expedited requests overwhelmed the expedite process (which has to take precedence over the regular service) pushing expedites from 2 weeks to 4 weeks to process and then pushing back the regular service from 1 month to 3 months. Even now with all the press coverage talking about delays, people who planned their trips months in advance are still rushing in to get their passports at the last minute and then whining about government inefficiency when you all aren’t that efficient yourselves!!!
    I guess you didn’t read all the comments. Most people writing applied months in advance. My daughter-in-law applied several months in advance and was told that she should have her passport in a matter of weeks. In fact, the woman at the passport place told my DIL that she shouldn’t spend the money (which she did spend anyway) to get expedited delivery because she had ordered it so far in advance that it would get there in plenty of time via the regular mail. It did not come in time even with expedited delivery.
    I’m curious. Which branch of the federal government do you work for?


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