Our trip to the Netherlands was planned months in advance. We were ready to go and made it as far as the luggage check-in. Then the airline agent uttered these horrifying words: “Sir, your son’s passport is expired. You cannot board the plane.”
At this moment, my world sank. All plans fell into the water, and I tried to plead for mercy. But the agent sympathetically said that she couldn’t do anything about this.
This was a humbling experience, since I was in charge of checking the passports. I only checked mine and my wife’s passport which were valid for 10 years, so I thought that our young kids’ passports should be fine and neglected to check their passports. Little did I know that kids’ passports are only valid for 5 years! Thankfully, my good wife did not make a big deal about it; she thought it was pretty funny.
I, however was quite anxious and was figuring out what to do. After some phone calls, I figured out that we could get a new passport for my son using same-day service at the Department of State in San Francisco. This is what we did to get that passport, plus some tips in case you face this same predicament:
- Book the next international flight.
- Print out the itinerary, so that you can show proof of travel requiring a passport.
- Get 2 passport pictures. I got my son’s at Costco for a very affordable price.
- Get other required paperwork, such as proof of ID, birth certificate, etc. See this full list of required items.
- It will be helpful to fill in your passport application form beforehand, but it is not required.
- Go to the Department of State and line up before it opens (8:30AM). We went to the Department of State office in San Francisco at 95 Hawthorne Street. (Do not bother with making an appointment by phone. The line is always busy.)
- Get your queue number.
- Submit the passport application form (available there) when your number comes up.
- Come back at the indicated time to pick up your passport (3PM in our case).
The overall cost of getting a new same-day passport was not that bad. It only cost $60 more to get this same-day expedited service. However, changing the tickets for our family cost us a total of $1800, which was very painful. On top of that, our vacation was cut short by 2 days, foregoing some of the activities that we had planned.
I think it would make great sense for the Department of State to have a passport issuing facility on the premises of the Airport itself. I wouldn’t mind paying a bit extra for this service if it meant I could still board a plane at the original planned time.
What do you think about having such a passport issuing facility available at the airport? How feasible is that?