Government that Works

Saturday, November 10, 2007

My passport was to expire in May, 2008.  I am planning a trip out of the country the next month (June 2008), so obviously I needed to renew my passport.

I had heard and read horror stories about how long it would take to renew my passport, figuring I better get a jump start on the renewal process NOW so I wouldn't have to worry about it later. 

Wasn't sure where to start, so I went to the Mayes County courthouse, where I originally got my passport application.  They told me that they no longer deal with passports, but I could go to some other county, or go to the web site at travel.state.gov.  Cool.  I went to the site, found an application, and even filled it out online.  Very nice.  I printed it out, then faced a slight dilemma.

You have to include pictures with the application.  Wasn't sure where I could get that done, so I put the application process on hold for a while.  All this was done in August....

Worrying that I would be too late (it was now October), I got my old application printed and looked at it again.  Still had to get the pictures.  I looked around the web site of the State Department, and found a way to search for "Passport Acceptance Facilities" and found the Southeast Post Office in Tulsa. 

While the office hours were a little short (9:30 AM - 3:00 PM) they were in a good location and even offered photos on site.  Great!

I had a class in Tulsa on a Thursday at noon, so decided to go a little early and fill out my application.  Giving myself a lot of time before my class, I arrived and immediately got in.  Unfortunately, I had filled out the wrong form online.  However, the guy gave me the correct form, a clipboard and a pen and told me all I had to do was fill out the right form.  Okay..not a problem.  I went out of the office back into the post office lobby that had chairs and went to work on the form. 

It only took about 10 minutes or so to fill it out.  Went back in and he took my pictures (charged $15 - not bad).  Since we were at the post office, he even mailed the application for me.  He offered me choice of mailing options, and whether I wanted expedited handling of my passport application.  I was hoping 7 months would be sufficient time that I didn't need the "expedited" option.

Turns out I was right.  They tell you that the process takes 4 to 6 weeks, but 3 weeks later to the day my renewed passport showed up.  Wow... faster than advertised.  Government that actually works!

Only one little glitch.  You can check your passport application status online.  Right now (as I write this) it says my application is currently being processed.  Ah...faith in government restored!



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