Passport processing is generally not a speedy process. Under most circumstances, normal passport processing can take 6 weeks, sometimes longer if the passport office is busy or there's a problem with your application. Paying an additional $60 fee will reduce the processing time to about 3 weeks, but sometimes you just can't wait that long.
Fortunately, there are procedures in place for citizens who need a passport in less than 3 weeks. Here's what you need to know before you apply for a fast passport:
To qualify for a fast passport, you have to be able to prove that you need one. Fast passports are only available for US citizens who have an international trip scheduled within the next 14 days, or within the next 4 weeks if a foreign visa is also required. To prove that you qualify, you'll need a copy of your itinerary.
If you're traveling on business and don't have tickets yet, you can substitute a letter from your company describing the purpose of your trip and including your planned departure date.
If you qualify for a fast passport, make an appointment at the nearest Regional Passport Agency office by calling 1-877-487-2778. These offices can issue passports within 24 hours, but they operate on an appointment-only basis, so you can't just walk in.
Bring your travel itinerary or company letter to your appointment, along with all of the documents you need to apply for your passport. Make sure to read over the requirements carefully and contact the US Passport Agency before your appointment if you have any questions.
Private Expediting Companies
If you don't have a Regional Passport office near you or you can't make the time to get there, you can also use a private passport expediting company to submit your passport application. Basically, these companies deal with the passport agency for you, and while they do cost extra, they are often worth the expense.