Cue the excitement because the dates for your honeymoon are officially on the calendar! As the months and weeks count down, you think to grab the passports from wherever they’ve been tucked away with other essential documents, only to realize, one or both of your passports definitely expires before your honeymoon.
It’s such a facepalm sort of moment, and you are definitely not alone—there’s a reason why the official website for U.S. Passports has a link to “Get My Passport Fast” front and center on the homepage. Since passports are only renewed once a decade, it’s incredibly easy to just lose track of the expiration date over the years. (Think about where you were in life a decade ago. Exactly.)
“We’ve had many clients truly believe their passports were valid and realize within two weeks of their trip that it’s expired,” says Tampa-based luxury travel advisor Lesley Cohen. “All of them have been resolved with a last-minute trip to the passport office, typically out of town. It can usually be resolved but it’s not worth the stress.”
Meet the Expert
Lesley Cohen is a luxury travel advisor and founder of Lesley Cohen Travel Group, which specializes in luxury honeymoons, family travel, and luxury experiences around the globe.
Another detail couples may not realize when they’re making their honeymoon plans is that most countries require your passport to be valid for six months beyond your date of return—and your passport is required to have a minimum number of blank pages, notes Cohen. “As a travel advisor, I keep that information front and center on my email signature to remind our clients as much as possible.”
While a quick turnaround to renew your passport is possible, as Cohen explains, it’s bound to be a stressful experience as your entire honeymoon trip is hanging in the balance. Hopefully, you have at least eight to 10 weeks before you travel—or in even a better scenario, several months. In every situation, here’s the best course of action to take to renew your passport before your honeymoon.
10 Weeks or More From Departure: Routine Renewal
If you and your partner have realized you need to renew one of your passports before your honeymoon, and you don’t depart for a couple of months or more, you can breathe easily.
To process a new passport, the routine renewal by mail service takes an estimated six to nine weeks, although it’s best to just get it done sooner rather than later, in case of unexpected delays. Follow the step-by-step instructions from the State Department to gather everything you need for your new passport, including new passport photos, forms, and fees (which are only payable by check or money order).
Even if you have extra time, Cohen advises her clients to pay for expedited renewal service, which for an additional fee returns your new passport even faster. “There have been backed-up passport renewals in the past and it’s not worth the worry.”
6 to 10 Weeks From Departure: Expedited Renewal
One step up in urgency from routine passport renewal is expedited passport renewal, for an additional fee (60 dollars). The expedited renewal by mail service follows the same step-by-step instructions as above and typically takes between three to five weeks for processing.
To err on the side of caution, Cohen only recommends expedited passport renewal to couples if they have six to eight weeks, or more, until travel. “If your passport has not shown up within the expected period of time, you can also contact your local Congresswoman/Congressman's office for assistance.”
Less than Six Weeks Until Departure: Expedited Renewal or Urgent Travel
If you’ve realized one of your passports is not going to be valid for your upcoming honeymoon and you’re less than six weeks out from departure, this is where things get a little complicated.
You can still use the expedited passport renewal service outlined above, and there’s a very good chance you’ll get your passport back within the anticipated three to five weeks of processing, pay to overnight your passport renewal application, and add expedited one or two day delivery for the new passport. The State Department is also trialing the possibility of renewing your passport online, which includes the option for expedited passport renewal and should greatly speed things up in the future.
The other option is to hold out on renewing your passport until you qualify for passport renewal in person at a Passport Agency or Passport Center due to urgent travel—which is defined as a departure for international travel within 14 calendar days. Appointments are required, and can only be obtained by calling 1-877-487-2778 once you are within the 14-day window. Be prepared to sit on hold for some time—and be prepared to potentially make travel plans to get to your appointment, which will be scheduled mere days before your honeymoon flight. (Talk about stress.) Even if you have to drive some distance or book a flight to make your appointment, the good news is, you’ll be able to pick up your new passport the same day.