Passport Problems: How to Renew ASAP

So it turns out that your passport doesn't actually expire on it's printed expiration date.  For all intents and purposes, it expires 6 months prior because you can't apply for a visa or enter a country if you are less than six months out from said date which makes zero sense because then what's the point of having an expiration date? 

I learned this the hard way when trying to apply for a visa to Cambodia. My expiry date is the end of April and I was trying to get a visa for November and failed hard. Which kind of prevents me from getting any other visas until I renew my passport. If you need to renew a passport in a hurry, here's what I did and recommend doing.  

Your passport renewal will cost $170 (as long as you meet these requirements) and then to expedite it via the government costs an additional $60 but that only cuts your turnaround time to three weeks. I needed mine sooner because I still have several visas I need to apply for after I get my new one and I only have about 5 weeks to get it all done.

I found Visa HQ to be the easiest and most reasonably priced option. Their site is really well organized and easy to navigate - unlike several other competitors that I looked at. You can get your passport renewed as fast as three business days for $199, 5-6 business days costs $139 and 7-9 business days costs $59. I opted for the mid-range. 

The fastest and most efficient way is to order and pay for everything at once online with a credit card. This includes the cost of the passport, the expediting fee and FedEx shipping ($20 each way overnighted). Then you have to fill out the DS-82 online and save a .pdf copy when finished. Email that, the shipping label and the Letter of Authorization .pdf to yourself then head to your nearest FedEx Office with your old passport. (They are supposed to send you back the old one with the new one, but I went ahead and scanned my old passport and all the pages with stamps on them just in case.) Then at FedEx, you can get your new passport photo taken (1 photo, 2 copies for $16.95) forward the email with forms to that location's email so they can print them and you can sign them and finally mail everything along with your old passport. 

All together it cost me about 3 hours and $366, but I didn't really have a choice. 

How does the government still have such a deficit when they charge so much for passports?! I can't wait until technology progresses to Minority Report levels and travel is all verified via retinal scan and I don't have to deal with this nonsense anymore. (And we're not far off because they told me not to show teeth and to have both ears visible in my new photo, no doubt for facial recognition software.)

I'm not used to seeing small, square photos without Instagram filters on them. 

I'm not used to seeing small, square photos without Instagram filters on them.