Same-Day Passport, Chicago

Same-Day Passport, Chicago

Sometimes Americans need to get a passport fast. Like, the same-day fast. Is this even possible? What if you live in Chicago—can you get a U.S. passport the same day in Chicago? And if you can—then how? How do you actually do it?

Yes, you can get a same-day passport in Chicago—but only under certain circumstances. This article will explain what it takes to qualify for 24-hour passport services. And if you do qualify, we’ll tell you what you have to do in order to actually get your U.S. passport so fast. Finally, we’ll answer some of your most commonly asked questions. Let’s get started.

How to qualify for a U.S. passport the same day in Chicago

First of all, be advised that emergency passports are only issued for true life-or-death emergencies, and then only for emergencies involving members of your immediate family. So the first question that we must answer is: what are life-or-death emergencies?

Qualifying life or death emergencies

These qualifying emergencies can be one of only three things:

  1. a life-threatening injury or illness requiring hospitalization,
  2. if a family member is in hospice care overseas and not expected to live long, or
  3. if they have already died and you need to attend the funeral.

If you need to travel to another country for medical services (or medication) for yourself, then unfortunately you do not qualify for a life-or-death emergency passport. Sorry, friend; this is a good reason to always keep your passport and travel documents up to date.

Now the next question to answer is: who are the immediate family?

Qualifying family members

Since emergency passports are issued for family emergencies involving immediate family members only, you need to know who qualifies as “immediate family” and who does not.

Immediate family members are:

  • Parents (or legal guardians), grandparents, your spouse, your children, and your siblings.

Immediate family members are not:

  • Aunts and uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews (your sibling’s children), or your godchildren.

Some examples of true emergencies:

  • Your child is backpacking through South America on her own passport when a bus crash puts her in a hospital in Columbia. You need to fly down to see her, so you book a flight for the day after tomorrow—but you do not have a valid passport. This qualifies as a life-or-death emergency involving an immediate family member.
  • Your non-immigrant parent back in the old country has just been told he has only a few months left to live, and he would like to see his new grandson before he dies. But your newborn baby boy does not have his own passport yet—and yes, even infants need to be passport holders. The normal waiting time for a new passport is 8 (eight) to 11 (eleven) weeks, but you need to fly to Poland this weekend. This also qualifies as a life-or-death emergency involving an immediate family member.
  • Your sibling who had retired to Mexico several years ago has just passed away unexpectedly. The funeral is in Puerto Vallarta next week, and you realize suddenly that your passport expired last year. This is a life-or-death emergency involving an immediate family member.

In all of these examples, life and death are on the line and it is immediate family members who are involved. But if it were your nephew in a hospital in Columbia, say, or your uncle in hospice in Poland, or your cousin’s funeral in Mexico, then these examples would not qualify because the family members involved are not “immediate family.”

And if your backpacking daughter were suddenly getting engaged in Columbia and you wanted to fly down for the engagement party; or your non-immigrant parents are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in Poland and want to hold your new baby; or your sibling is hosting a 75th birthday fiesta in Mexico—these examples also would also not qualify because they are not true “life or death” emergencies.

Now you know what it takes to qualify to get your passport within 24 hours. Next, we’ll learn how to actually go about getting a passport within 24 hours. What is the process? How does it work? What do you need to do? Keep reading to find out.

How to get a U.S. passport the same day in Chicago

Getting an emergency passport is similar to the usual application process, but with a couple of key differences. Here is what is the same:

  • You must have your completed passport forms,
  • you must have all your supporting documents (birth certificate, naturalization certificate, government-issued photo ID, expired passport, etc.),
  • you must have a recent biometric passport photo, 2×2 inches square and in color,
  • you must pay the fee (credit card or debit card; checks, cash, and money orders for the exact amount only), including an extra $60 expedite fee.

So far, everything is standard and the same. Here now is what is different:

  • You must have documentation of your emergency. This can be a letter from a hospital on hospital letterhead signed by the doctor, for example, or a death certificate.
  • If your documentation is not in English, then you must have it professionally translated (the translation doesn’t have to be notarized).
  • You must have proof that you are traveling internationally within the next 3 (three) business days, usually an airline ticket or airline itinerary. (Note: you can start calling to schedule your appointment as much as 2 (two) weeks prior to your international travel, but the appointment itself must be within 3 business days of your flight.)
  • Bring your email from the National Passport Information Center (with your appointment confirmation number and your check-in instructions) with you to your appointment.
  • Most importantly, you do not drop your completed application off at your nearest Chicago passport office/passport acceptance facility. No, for a same-day passport in Chicago, you must go to the Chicago Passport Agency. And for that, you must have an appointment in advance.

How do you get this appointment? And where is the Chicago Passport Agency located? You’ll find out in the next sections.

Making the appointment with the Chicago Passport Agency

If you’re a U.S. citizen living in or near the great American city of Chicago, you are in luck: of the 26 (twenty-six) U.S. regional passport agencies in the country, one of them is conveniently located in downtown Chicago. Just remember that walk-ins are no longer allowed (on account of COVID), so you have to have an advance appointment.

To make an appointment, call the toll-free appointment line at the National Passport Information Center and speak with a scheduler. They handle Spanish and English calls only. Their phone number is 1-877-487-2778. Their hours of operation are 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding federal holidays.

If you need to use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD/TTY), that number is 1-888-874-7793. If your life-or-death emergency happens after 8:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) on Mondays through Fridays, or over the weekend or on a federal holiday, then call 202-647-4000 instead (not toll-free).

Ask if you can get an appointment. Appointments are limited and they cannot guarantee that you will be able to get one, but they will do their best. Please try to be flexible. They will quiz you on the nature of your emergency, to make sure that you actually qualify for an emergency passport; please try to be understanding. If they are satisfied that you meet the criteria for an emergency passport and they have an appointment available for you, they will tell you the next steps.

The next step is that they will then schedule your appointment and confirm it via email. This email will have your appointment time, location (the Chicago Passport Agency), and your all-important appointment confirmation number and check-in instructions.

Be sure to bring a copy of this email with you. The email will remind you of everything you need to bring: photo ID, a color biometric photograph for your new emergency passport, citizenship documents, proof of your emergency, and so on. Follow all their instructions carefully and completely.

Emergency passports for minors

If the emergency passport is for a child aged 15 (fifteen) or younger, then both parents must be present along with the child. This is to prevent parental kidnapping.

If the parents are divorced, the non-custodial parent must still appear in person; the only exceptions are if the custodial parent has a letter from the court or a court order proving that the non-custodial parent has forfeited all parental rights. This is often the case if one parent is incarcerated or institutionalized. If one of the parents is deceased, then you must provide a valid death certificate.

Do not be late for your appointment. In fact, please arrive at least 15 (fifteen) minutes early to get through security screening. It is similar to going to an airport: you need an ID to enter the building, they will x-ray your stuff and pass you through a metal detector. Weapons are not allowed. Neither are laptops. No food, no drinks. They cannot store any luggage. You may need to wear a medical face mask to help prevent the spread of disease, so be prepared.

But where do you go, exactly?

Chicago Passport Agency location

The Chicago Passport Agency is located at 101 Ida B. Wells Drive, Chicago IL, 60605-1074.

Old-timers may remember the address as 101 W. Congress Parkway, Chicago IL, 60605. It’s the same building at the same address; only the street name has changed.

Parking is available (for a price) nearby in public garages on West Harrison Street and also on Clark Street.

After clearing security, take the elevator up to the 9th floor and check in at the Information Desk. They will need you to provide your appointment confirmation number in order to confirm your appointment. Once you’re confirmed, have a seat and wait until they call your number—they might not see you at exactly your scheduled time.

When they call your number, a State Department agent will review your case, including your application and all your supporting documents. If everything is in order—application, documentation, and color biometric passport photo—they can issue you an emergency passport on the spot.

By the way, the Chicago Passport Agency does not take passport photos onsite; you have to provide your own. Official U.S. passport photos must meet certain rigid requirements regarding size and composition. One of the biggest mistakes people make is bringing a non-compliant photo. Don’t let this happen to you!

Passport Photo Online for perfect passport photos

The big-box retailers like Walmart and Target no longer operate passport photo studios. Passport-style photographs are still available at most major drug stores in Chicago, including CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid. However, you will find it faster, easier and cheaper to take a photo yourself using your smartphone and an online app such as Passport Photo Online.

Passport Photo Online works like an online photo booth. Simply have someone snap a picture of you, and drag & drop the image into the Passport Photo Online tool. The photo tool will analyze the image for suitability as a passport photo, crop it to size and adjust it to fit. Your final image is emailed to you as a JPEG, which you can get printed for pennies at your favorite one-hour photo print shops such as Walmart, Walgreens, or FedEx Office.

Passport Photo Online guarantees the final image will be accepted by the U.S. Department of State as a valid U.S. passport photo. The service is more convenient than getting your picture taken in the drugstore, and the price is lower, too. This is an excellent life hack for getting an emergency passport photo fast, cheap, and easy.

Your most frequently asked questions

Finally, we need to go over some commonly asked questions. Here is some additional information you might need to know.

What is an emergency passport?

Emergency passports are temporary passports issued for extreme or unusual circumstances. In addition to the 26 U.S regional passport agencies in America, emergency passports are often issued at U.S. embassies overseas, for American citizens who have lost their passports while traveling.

How long is an emergency passport valid?

An emergency passport is limited to 1 (one) year of validity at the most, but often less; your particular passport could be limited to only 6 (six) months, or maybe even to just the one trip out of the country and back. Be sure to clarify this with the Department of State employee before you leave their office.

How is an emergency passport different from a normal passport?

An emergency passport does not have an embedded electronic chip. Be aware that some countries may not accept emergency passports, and you could be denied boarding by the airline or refused entry by immigration officials.

We strongly encourage you to research the entry and exit requirements of your destination before traveling. Country-specific information can be found on the State Department website.

What if I need a foreign visa?

If you need a foreign visa for your trip, then you may schedule your appointment with the passport agency up to 10 (ten) to 14 (fourteen) days before your travel. Hopefully, this will give you enough time to get the visa from the embassy of your destination. Good luck.

Can you get your passport the same day in Chicago?

Yes, it is possible to get a passport the same day in Chicago for family emergencies, but only at the Chicago Passport Agency at 101 Ida B. Wells Drive, Chicago IL, 60605.

How to get a passport the same day in Chicago?

Call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778 for an appointment with the Chicago Passport Agency. Your appointment must be within 3 (three) business days of your flight, as verified by your itinerary and flight details. They’ll send you an email explaining what to do next.

How much does a same-day passport in Chicago cost?

In addition to the standard government fees of $110, you will also need to pay an additional fee of $60 for the expedited services. There is no cost for the appointment, and you do not need to pay the $35 acceptance fee charged by post offices and county clerks.

What are the same-day passport hours in Chicago?

The Chicago Passport Agency makes appointments for Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 8:00 a.m. through 3:00 p.m. On Thursdays, they are only open from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. They are closed on weekends and holidays.

Can I renew a same-day passport in Chicago on Sunday?

You cannot renew your passport in Chicago on Sundays or Saturdays because the office is closed. You can still make an appointment for the following week, however, by calling the weekend line at 202-647-4000 (not a toll-free call).

What are the locations for a same-day passport near Chicago?

The only place in Chicago where you can get a same-day passport is the Chicago Passport Agency at 101 Ida B. Wells Drive, Chicago IL, 60605-1074. But if the Chicago office doesn’t have an available appointment that works for you, you still have 25 (twenty-five) other U.S. regional passport agencies in the country to choose from. You can use any of these agencies.

The nearest alternate is in Detroit, MI, but there are also offices in Minneapolis MN, and Buffalo NY. You do not need to live in or near Chicago IL in order to use the Chicago Passport Agency.

Can I get my passport expedited using an expedited passport service?

There are companies online offering expedited passports, but this is not the same as an emergency passport. While they can help you get your passport fast, they cannot get it for you on the same day. Expedited passports still take four to five weeks processing time, even with an expensive online service.

Final conclusions

While we certainly hope that you do not have a life-or-death family emergency, we know that emergencies are a part of life. They happen in every family, so you need to be prepared. You now know what to do if you suddenly need an emergency passport in Chicago—but better still would be for each and every U.S. citizen to have a valid U.S. passport, because someday you’re going to need one. Don’t let it become an emergency. Travel smart.

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