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Is Your Passport Stuck in Charleston?

Is Your Passport Stuck in Charleston?

When I called the National Passport Center to inquire about the status of my passport, the representative told me that my passport was at the Charleston Passport Center, but that the center didn’t have a phone number. I wasn’t surprised—poor customer service and the U.S. government go hand-in-hand, after all.

Still, I didn’t buy the “sorry, no phone number” bit for a second—and I desperately needed to get in contact with someone there regarding my passport, which was having extra visa pages added.

If your passport is also at the Charleston Passport Center and you have an upcoming trip, I have good news and more good news for you. First of all, the Charleston Passport Center phone number absolutely exists. And secondly, the level of customer service there is absolutely impeccable.

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When To Call Charleston Passport Center

I sent my passport to have more visa pages added to it (NOTE: adding extra pages to a US passport is no longer possible as of December 2020) a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, although I enclosed my passport and the application and expedited it to the National Passport Center, I forgot to enclose the check. As soon as I realized my error, I contacted the National Passport Cell Center number at 877-487-2778 to inquire about where I should send payment to ensure prompt processing.

I ended up calling in several times due to how unhelpful each progressive National Passport Center staff member was. Most told me that there was literally nothing I could do, that I simply had to wait for the government to contact me and ask for payment or, worse, return everything to me and start the process over. I tried not to be too demanding—after all, it was my fault at the end of the day—but I was also frustrated that I couldn’t get a straight answer.

The last time I called the National Passport Center, I asked the lady I spoke with where my passport was being processed. The Charleston SC Passport Office, she told me. Great, I thought. It will be much easier to deal with a smaller office. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be: She informed me that, unfortunately, the Charleston Passport Center didn’t have a phone number.

Charleston Passport Center: Fast Facts

Charleston Passport Center Phone Number

I know bullshit when I smell it, so I immediately got onto Google and began looking for the Charleston Passport Center phone number. To my dismay, most of the pages I found directed me to discussion forum threads where others were asking the same question. I pressed on through several pages of Google search results with basically no luck.

No luck, that is, until I happened upon a blog that contained a list of phone numbers bearing Charleston area codes. All of the phone numbers, the blog said, belonged to the Charleston Passport Center, but not all of them worked. Among the Charleston Passport Center phone number options were 843-746-1690, 843-746-1691 and 843-746-1692.

Customer Service at Charleston Passport Center

If you get through to the Charleston Passport Center, it won’t be to the center’s customer service department. All of the numbers I listed ring through to the desks of Charleston Passport Center employees.

The woman who answered my phone call was attentive and seemed concerned. When I asked her for an address where I should mail the check, she asked me if I’d prefer to pay by charge, to get the process back in motion immediately. There was obviously no question in my mind!

Charleston Passport Center Processing Time

She took down my name and phone number and told me she was forwarding them to a customer service representative who would call me back. Sure enough, 15 minutes later, I was on the phone when an even friendlier young woman from the Charleston Passport Center’s customer service department.

Incredibly, she not only processed my credit card payment, but also made sure the extra visa pages were added to my passport right then and there. She even offered me an expedited shipping option: This was Thursday afternoon; I had my passport Friday morning!

When Not To Call Charleston Passport Center

Service at the Charleston Passport Center is friendly and quick, especially when compared to the awful service at the National Passport Center. Still, there is a reason the customer service phone number for the Charleston Passport Center isn’t published: Employees at the Charleston Passport Center aren’t generally meant to deal with the public.

In fact, according to some of the forum posts I’d read while searching for the Charleston Passport Center’s phone number, you are technically supposed to call the center only after you have asked your congressional representative to expedite your passport on your behalf. Obviously, I don’t think this is actually the case, given my personal experience to the contrary.

Prior to Covid-19, I wouldn’t have contacted the Charleston Passport Center unless I had imminent travel plans and couldn’t get anywhere with the National Passport Center. However, given the fact that passport application and renewal can take 10-12 weeks under normal processing during the pandemic, I recommend calling Charleston Passport Center as a first option, rather than a last resort.

FAQ About the Charleston Passport Center

How do I contact Charleston Passport Center?

Phone numbers for the Charleston Passport Center include 843-746-1690, 843-746-1691 and 843-746-1692. However, if these phone numbers don’t work when you read this article, I would recommend that you search Google for “843-746 Charleston Passport” and try calling any other phone numbers that come up.

How much does a passport renewal cost in 2020?

As of December 2020, it costs $110 to renew a US passport using normal processing. If you want your 2020 passport renewal expedited, you’ll need to pay an additional $60. For extremely fast turnarounds, you may want to contact a passport agent instead.

Who can I call for passport questions?

Unless you need to ask for your passport application to be expedited, I recommend that you call the State Department (rather than the Charleston Passport Center) for general passport questions. Call 1-877-487-2778 to speak to a representative, or send an email to [email protected] instead.

The Bottom Line

If you find a phone number that begins with the digits 843-746, chances are that it’s the Charleston Passport Center phone number. Although employees at the ordinary National Passport Center can be unhelpful and even unfriendly, the experience when contacting the Charleston Passport Center is quite the opposite. As to whether you are allowed to contact the Charleston SC passport office directly? The official rule is that you can’t do so until after you’ve contacted your member of Congress, but I didn’t experience any negative consequences when I reached out. Good luck to you!

 

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