The story of how my dog ate my passport and I worked tirelessly until I got a new one 9 hours later.
***If you are in this emergency and need the quick version, scroll to the bottom. This is specific to U.S. Passports only and I have NO IDEA if it pertains to other country’s protocol for emergency passports.
“Help! My dog ate my passport.” I left for Bali at 12pm on a Monday and the Friday morning before, my dog Cooper did not approve of my upcoming trip. I guess he just loves my belly rubs, he couldn’t stand to be without them. He was also hungry that morning and craving a United States passport for breakfast. I came out of the shower to see passport shreds all over the couch and my upcoming itinerary torn to bits. I immediately began to panic.
After the initial shock of “OH MY F#*&ING GOD, COOPER!!!” (and more unmentionable choice words) I screamed and cried and ran around the house like a complete crazy person. I finally calmed down and called the United States passport office after some intense Google searching of what to do. I had a melt down on the phone, despite my greatest attempts at keeping my composure, and explained the situation in between sobs and cracked words. “I need to get a new passport ASAP because my dog just polished off my old one and I leave Monday morning”, I pleaded. The woman on the other end laughed a few times and then transferred me to the appointment making system. Luckily, there was a Passport Agency right near where I lived.
*Note: In an emergency, you can’t just go to a post office for an expedited one. You need to get it made at a federal office.
The next available appointment was on Monday at 1:30! An hour and a half after I was set to depart. I freaked out for the third time in a 30-minute span. I had more meltdowns, freak-outs, and crying fits than I have had collectively in my life. My passport was my life line and my dog killed it. I called back and requested an emergency appointment this time to make sure I could go in later that day. I was able to secure an “Emergency Life or Death Appointment” for the same day. It was the last available appointment of the day. The passport Gods were looking out for me! It felt weird getting a life or death appointment because it definitely wasn’t life or death but it’s all they had, so I took it.
Now I needed some passport photos of my bloodshot eyes, and puffy face. I rushed around unsuccessfully trying to get passport photos done at Long’s Drugs, CVS, and FedEx Office due to “down equipment” and oversleeping printing technicians. I ended up taking a super awesome #selfie against a white wall and printing it on photo paper. I did NOT think it was actually going to be suitable but I cut it up to a 2” by 2” square and they ended up accepting it at the appointment. SCORE!
I gathered up all my documents and headed to the office downtown. If your dog ever eats your passport, you’ll need these too…
1) Proof of Travel Plans like an itinerary, flight tickets, or anything with a date and location on it.
2) Identification (Driver’s license, state ID, military ID, etc.)
3) Original Birth Certificate
4) Original Passport, if you still have it.
5) A signed Letter stating what happened to your old passport.
6) The filled out DS-11 Passport Application
7) Passport photos or a 2”x2” selfie on photo paper.
8) Payment. They accept cashier’s check, credit cards, and exact cash. The price ranges from $180-$225.
At the office, the process was fairly easy. I had my appointment, presented all my documents, stated my case, and politely pleaded for urgency. The woman behind the counter laughed, actually all of the people I spoke to laughed about my dog predicament, and they told me to return at 2pm. They closed for the weekend at 3pm and said they would try to have it done by then. TRY?!?! TRY? I freaked out again thinking I would miss my flight, leave my sister-in-law stranded on a foreign island, and weeks of excitement and planning were flushed down the toilet.
I went to Whole Foods, gorged on some much needed stress foods and returned at 2pm. I waited until 2:40pm and watched Ghostbusters on their waiting area TV until they finally called my name. I’ve never jumped up so fast in my life! I RAN to that passport counter even with the best scene of the movie commencing. That’s right, the giant marshmallow man was attacking the city. MY PASSPORT WAS FINISHED AND I WANTED IT IN MY HANDS. I WAS GOING TO MAKE IT!!! I was never going to let that passport out of my sight again. I have never felt such a sigh of relief in my entire life. I told them thank you at least a dozen times and said that we all deserve to go to Bali after the day we’ve had! They agreed but only if I paid for all of their trips. That was my cue to leave and go home to finish packing.
So the short version of what to do if you lose, ruin, or need an emergency passport within a few days of your trip is to follow these steps…
1 – Stay as calm as possible. Or freak out if it makes you feel better. I screamed and cried more times than I could count.
2 – Call the United States Passport Agency office at 1-877-487-2778 or 1-888-874-7793 for outside the USA. In a real after-hours emergency call, 1-202-647-4000.
3 – Make a regular appointment if you can afford the time of 5-8 business days. Make an emergency appointment if you need it the same day, or within 1-2 business days. You must request an emergency appointment because they won’t give you one automatically.
4 – Go get passport photos done immediately.
5 – Get all your documents together. Don’t forget the signed letter!
6 – Head down to the office early. You don’t have time to waste.
7 – Present all your documents and explain what happened.
8 – Request it for the same day if you need. Make sure they know the date you need it by if it’s not the same day.
9 – Go blow off some steam and come back hoping your passport is finished.
10 – Keep it away from your dog.
11 – TAKE FLIGHT!
If you want the website to delve in further, check it out here!