Reggae To The Rescue — Expediting A Passport

This is the first entry in a series of short blog-style articles about visiting Costa Rica from the United States. While most of the information will apply to potential visitors from any state, the series is written with somewhat of a focus on international travel from Florida. Additionally, the specific motive behind sharing this information is to help first time visitors prepare for their trip and make their way down to the coastal surf community of Dominical for next month’s Reggae To The Rescue benefit concert featuring Rebelution on July 16th.

ENTRY #1: Expediting A Passport

Reggae To The Rescue is officially five weeks away!!! That means if you’re planning on making the trip and don’t already have a valid passport then you will have to expedite the process in order to receive your new passport in time for travel. The good news is that the process is pretty painless and only costs an additional $60 (plus shipping if done by mail). I personally had to go through this process myself back in January of 2015 when I had to renew my passport on short notice to be able to make it down for Envision Festival.

Note: The Costa Rican Embassy’s website states that “US passports must be valid for a minimum of one day from the day you enter Costa Rica.” However, ensuring that you have a month or more left before expiration is advisable. Also, many countries and a lot of airlines departing from the U.S. require 6 months.

Expedited service can be requested either by mail or in person and will get you your passport in three weeks or less. When I had to expedite my renewal I received mine in about 10 days. If you’re planning on attending Reggae To The Rescue my recommendation is to play it safe and make sure you submit by either mail or in person no later than June 20th.

If this is your first passport application, or if you’re requesting a replacement because your most recent was lost or stolen, then you’ll need to apply in person at an authorized location and submit Form DS-11 along with proof of citizenship, primary identification (i.e. driver’s license), secondary identification if the primary form is from a different state than the state in which you are applying, photocopies of each of the aforementioned identification documents, and a passport photo. The cost for a first time passport is $110 application fee plus a $25 execution fee. Expediting will cost an additional $60 as mentioned throughout this article.

Click here for the step by step procedure for first time applicants on the US Department of State’s official website. To find the Passport Application Acceptance Facility nearest you click here.

Expediting Your Passport Renewal By Mail

While a simple Google search will provide you with a long list of private Passport Expeditor/Courier companies, they all charge additional fees for their services and aren’t necessary in my opinion. Below are the steps to expedite your passport renewal by mail.

Note: All of this information is taken from the US Department of State’s website and available here.

  1. Form DS-82: Print and complete Form DS-82 — Application For A U.S. Passport by Mail. You can either use the US Department of State’s online Passport Wizard to fill out the appropriate form and information or you can print it out (click here) and complete it by hand.
  2. Your Old Passport: In order to be eligible to renew by mail you must submit your most recent U.S. Passport within this renewal application package. They’ll send it back to you (usually separately) so don’t feel sad about having to give it up for sentimental reasons.
  3. Name Changes: If you had a name change since your last passport issuing you’ll need to additionally send in a copy of your marriage certificate or court order. While they usually return these documents DO NOT SEND THE ORIGINALS.
  4. Fees: The cost for a passport renewal for adults is $110. In addition to the Passport Book, you can pay an extra $30 and get a Passport Card. While the card isn’t necessary, it can come in handy if you want to keep your passport information on hand but leave your physical Passport Book back in the hotel safe. As mentioned earlier, the fee to expedite the renewal process is $60. The total amount needs to be paid with a single check or money order.
  5. Passport Photo: While you can take and print your passport photo yourself I personally recommend using a professional passport photo service. This can typically be done at a local neighborhood pharmacy such as CVS or Walgreens. You do not want to chance your photo not meeting the requirement if you’re trying to expedite the process. When attaching your photo to the application make sure to use exactly four staples, positioning all of them vertically in each corner and as close to the edges as possible. To review the requirements for taking your own photo click here.
  6. Mail Application: Making sure to use a secure shipping envelope that will prevent any chance of your passport photo being bent insert all of the items listed in steps 1 through 5, seal, and bust out that sharpie and write “EXPEDITE” on the outside. Spend the extra couple bucks and make sure to use a trackable delivery method. Two-way overnight delivery is also recommended given that the idea is to ensure you get your passport in time for your trip down to Costa Rica. If you decide against the two-way overnight delivery your new passport will arrive back to you First Class Mail with delivery confirmation. Here’s the address for expedited service:
National Passport Processing Center
Post Office Box 90955
Philadelphia, PA 19190–0955

And that’s it. If expediting your renewal by mail the whole process can be knocked out in a couple hours. If y0u’re applying for the first time in person then make sure to call ahead and plan accordingly. The next entry of this series will be discussing flights.

Get your tickets to Reggae To The Rescue here.