My current passport is a couple of years old and it was down to three blank pages. After I got back from Brazil I realized that I didn’t have much upcoming international travel, it was a great time to get pages added to my passport.
The State Department lists processing times and says that if you don’t pay for expedited service it will take 4-6 weeks. There’s no way I can be without my passport for six weeks, so I opted into the extra cost processing, which they still say will take 2-3 weeks.
In fact, I had my passport back in about 9 days, including mailing the passport both directions. So that was better than expected.
The cost to do this was exorbitant:
- $82 to have pages added
- $60 expedite fee
- $12.72 to have my passport returned via overnight delivery
And that’s not counting the cost to send the passport and form to the government. You mail it in to a Post Office Box, so you can’t FedEx it, I used postal express mail for the second time this year (the first being for my Brazilian Visa, since that’s what they require). I don’t remember a time I used US Postal Service Express Mail previously.
It used to be that some US embassy locations would add pages for free, but that’ll often entail waiting while abroad and it’s not really want I want to deal with during precious time traveling internationally. I don’t know if any still do this.
Current law requires that the State Department estimates processing costs in order to pass those costs on to passport holders. That actually seems misguided to me.
- They estimate their own costs, which strikes me a conflict of interest
- Charging people whatever costs they incur hardly serves to incentivize efficiency, the longer it takes them to accomplish their tasks the more money they charge, that would seem to have it backwards
- Expedite fees also encourage inefficiencies, citizens have to pay more to be treated reasonably
- Since it’s a legal requirement to have a valid passport for international travel, ‘use fees’ seem misplaced, citizens can’t really be dubbed consumers in the usual sense who have an option to consume or not consume a given service
Others may and likely will, of course, disagree! But paying over $150 to continue to use my existing passport stings.
The required form is one page, just has you list identifying information (name, social security number, date and place of birth, phone number, address, current passport information and occupation).
You have a choice between having them add 24 page and having them add 48 pages. At my current use rate I’d certainly run through all 24 pages long before my passport expires, in fact I may run through all 48 additional pages though my guess Is that roughly that will be the number of additional pages that I need.
But since the price is the same to add 24 or 48, it seemed like a no-brainer. I’d ask for 48 pages, since otherwise I’d have to send the passport back and pay another $150 or so (or whatever they choose to charge in the future!). I do note, though, that adding 48 pages makes for a thick passport book indeed!
I made color copies of my full submission including passport, wrote ‘expedite’ on the envelope I was mailing in (an odd requirement since I was submitting the paperwork to the specific address for expediting as well as paying the expedite fee), and off it went.
I feel much better now that passport is back in hand.