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Help! I Washed My Passport!

Help I washed my passport

Nothing plunges travelers into emotional turmoil faster than having something happen to their passports, and water is frequently the evil that lurks behind the catastrophe. Unfortunately, the U.S. State Department lists water damage among the reasons necessitating passport replacement. When there are so many ways for your passport to become water damaged while traveling, it almost seems impossible to avoid it.

Travelers often get soaked on boats, they get caught in the rain, or they slip pack first while crossing a stream. They drop their passports in pools, hot tubs, and toilets. They spill alcohol, coffee, and conditioner on them. Of all the panicked reactions to a wet passport, the most horrifying has to be discovering it at the bottom of a washing machine where it just spent the last 45 minutes swirling in its watery grave.

Of course, the first thing you'll want to do if this happens to you is to try to save your passport; they are actually fairly resilient. The back cover with the e-passport microchip, the data page with your passport photo and the cover are the most important. You may lose visas, but if you get a replacement passport you'll lose them anyway, so it is worth a try to save the passport. After you've tried, if you are not feeling confident about the condition of your passport, it is probably a good idea to have it replaced. It will be up to persnickety border agents to make subjective decisions about its usability, and those decisions are not usually up for appeal.

If time is on your side, you can submit your damaged passport, Form DS-11, your original supporting documents, and passport fee at a passport acceptance facility and generally expect your new passport in four to five weeks. If you need your passport in two weeks, or need a foreign visa within four weeks, you can take your damaged passport, application and supporting documents and fees to a Department of State passport agency. You will have to pay an expedited fee of $60 in addition to the regular passport fee though.

If your passport ended up in the washing machine because you're getting ready to travel, your best bet is a passport expediting service. They can be pricey, especially if you need one within a 24-hour turnaround. If you can wait a few days, you'll save up to $150 or more in fees. Choose a registered passport expeditor who has a top rating with the Better Business Bureau and a reputation for reliability. You can apply for expedited service online with your travel itinerary, name, address, delivery option, and payment information. Submit your application, documents, fees, and damaged passport in person or via overnight service and you'll be back on the road in no time.

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