What You Must Know About Passport Renewal
If you’re planning to travel abroad, a valid passport is one of the most important documents you’ll need. Whether you’re renewing an expired passport or getting a new one, the process can seem daunting and time-consuming. But with the right information, you can make the process smooth and hassle-free.
In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about passport renewal, including the application process, requirements, fees, and timelines. We’ll also cover some tips and tricks to make the process easier, as well as some common mistakes to avoid.
Why Do You Need to Renew Your Passport?
Passports are generally valid for 10 years (for adults) and 5 years (for minors under 16 years old). However, many countries require that your passport be valid for at least six months beyond your planned departure date. So if your passport is close to expiring, you may need to renew it even if it hasn’t reached its expiration date yet.
Additionally, some visa applications may require a valid passport with a certain amount of validity left. And of course, your passport is your official travel document and identification, so it’s important to keep it up-to-date and in good condition.
When to Renew Your Passport?
It’s a good idea to start thinking about renewing your passport several months before it expires or before you plan to travel. Processing times can vary depending on where you live and how busy the passport agency is, so it’s best to leave plenty of time to avoid any unforeseen delays.
According to the U.S. Department of State, you should renew your passport if it will expire in less than six months or if it is damaged or mutilated. If your passport was issued more than 15 years ago, you will need to apply for a new passport, not a renewal.
What You Need to Renew Your Passport
Here’s what you’ll need to renew your passport:
1. Completed renewal application form (Form DS-82 for U.S. citizens)
2. Your most recent passport
3. Two recent 2 x 2 inch passport photos (taken within the last six months)
4. Payment for the renewal fee (currently $110 for U.S. citizens)
If your name has changed since your last passport was issued, you will also need to provide a certified copy of your marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court order. You will also need to renew your passport in person if you were under 16 years old when your most recent passport was issued or if your most recent passport was lost or stolen.
How to Renew Your Passport
There are two ways to renew your passport: by mail or in-person. Here are the steps for each method:
Renewing By Mail
If you meet the eligibility requirements (see above), you can renew your passport by mail. Here’s how:
1. Complete Form DS-82: The first step is to fill out Form DS-82, which you can download from the Department of State’s website. Be sure to fill out the form completely and accurately, and sign and date it where indicated.
2. Collect Your Documents: Gather your most recent passport, two passport photos, and any additional documentation required (such as a marriage certificate). Make a photocopy of your passport’s identification page as well.
3. Calculate Fees: The passport renewal fee for U.S. citizens is currently $110. If you need your passport expedited, there is an additional fee of $60. You can pay by check (made out to “U.S. Department of State”), money order, or credit card.
4. Mail Your Application: Send your completed Form DS-82, passport photos, most recent passport, any additional documentation, and your payment to the appropriate address. Be sure to follow the instructions on the Department of State’s website carefully to avoid any delays.
5. Wait for Your Passport to Arrive: Once your application is received and processed, your new passport will be mailed to you. It typically takes 4-6 weeks to receive your new passport, although expedited service is available for an additional fee.
If you do not qualify for renewal by mail (see above), you will need to renew your passport in-person at a Passport Agency or Acceptance Facility. Here are the steps:
1. Make an Appointment: You’ll need to make an appointment at a Passport Agency or Acceptance Facility in advance. You can make an appointment online at the Department of State’s website.
2. Gather Your Documents: Collect the same documents as you would for renewal by mail (see above).
3. Complete Form DS-11: Instead of Form DS-82, you’ll need to fill out Form DS-11 in-person. You can download the form online or get it from the Passport Agency or Acceptance Facility.
4. Pay Your Fees: The fees for in-person renewal are the same as for mail renewal (see above).
5. Submit Your Application: Once you have your appointment and all your documents, bring them to your Passport Agency or Acceptance Facility. A U.S. Department of State employee will review your application and supporting documents, administer an oath, and witness the signing of your Form DS-11.
6. Wait for Your Passport to Arrive: If you applied for expedited service, you will typically receive your new passport within 2-3 weeks. Otherwise, you can expect to receive it in 4-6 weeks.
Tips and Tricks for Passport Renewal
Here are a few tips and tricks to make your passport renewal process smoother and easier:
1. Apply Early: As mentioned above, it’s best to start thinking about renewing your passport several months before it expires or before you plan to travel.
2. Follow the Instructions: Carefully read and follow the instructions on the Department of State’s website. This will help avoid any errors or delays in processing your application.
3. Use a Professional Passport Photo Service: Passport photos must meet strict requirements, such as size, background, and lighting. Using a professional passport photo service can ensure your photos meet all the requirements and save you time and hassle.
4. Consider Expedited Service: If you need your passport quickly, consider paying for expedited service. This can shorten the processing time to 2-3 weeks, but there is an additional fee.
5. Check Your Passport Status: You can check the status of your passport application online at the Department of State’s website. This can help ensure you receive your passport in time for your travel plans.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
Here are some common mistakes to avoid when renewing your passport:
1. Not Checking Requirements: Be sure to carefully check the requirements for passport renewal (such as eligibility, forms, and fees) before starting the process.
2. Using an Old Application Form: Always use the most current version of Form DS-82 (for mail renewal) or Form DS-11 (for in-person renewal).
3. Submitting an Incomplete Application: Be sure to fill out the application form completely and accurately, and include all supporting documents required.
4. Using an Unacceptable Passport Photo: Passport photos must meet strict requirements, such as size, background, and lighting. Failure to provide an acceptable photo can delay or even prevent your application from being processed.
5. Not Allowing Enough Time: Processing times can vary, so be sure to allow plenty of time for your passport renewal to be processed and mailed to you.
Renewing your passport can seem like a daunting task, but with the right information and preparation, it can be a smooth and hassle-free experience. By following the instructions carefully, using professional services when needed, and avoiding common mistakes, you can renew your passport with ease and get back to planning your international travels.
In a majority of cases, US passport renewal can be completed through mail. However, all items and forms must be submitted according to the specific regulation set forth by the United States Department of Travel – failure to properly submit and/or complete the requirements can result in the rejection or delay of the passport renewal process.
In order to complete the US passport renewal process, the following is required:
1. Passport Photo:
An updated, recent passport photo is required in order to complete the passport renewal process; the specifications of the passport photo are specific and require strict adherence. The passport photo must:
• Be a recent photograph
• Measure 2 inches by 2 inches (length x width)
• The face of the individual appearing in the photograph must be centered; the space in between the top of the head and the bottom of the chin must measure 1 3/8 inches
• The photograph must be in color; the photograph cannot be blurry, scratched, damaged, or altered in any manner
• The individual appearing in the passport photo must be facing the camera and is not permitted to make abnormal facial gestures, expressions, or faces; squinted or closed eyes are not permitted
• Headwear – such as glasses – are not permitted without the expressed permission of a physician, specialist, or similarly-accredited professional
• The individual appearing in the photograph is required to wear casual, ‘street’ attire; uniforms or specific garb are not permitted unless they solely comprise the wardrobe of that individual
a. Getting a Passport Photo
Passport photos for the passport renewal process can be taken at many pharmacies, drug stores, and convenience stores; furthermore, they can be acquired at the post office – the price of a passport photo ranges from $10 to $25.
§ Passport photos for US passport renewal can be printed from a home printer, but the requirements of a commercially-bought passport photo apply; passport photos must be printed clearly on lightweight photo-paper
2. Form DS-82 (Passport Application):
Once an individual has acquired the passport photo needed for the passport renewal process, they are required to complete the Passport Application form (DS-82); this form can be acquired directly from the Department of Travel website and printed at home – the form must be printed on white copy paper measuring 8 inches by 11 ½ inches. The applicant for passport renewal must fill out the form specific to the requirements of a US passport renewal in lieu of applying for a new passport.
3. An Expired Passport:
The applicant must submit their expired passport in tandem with the passport renewal application; this serves identification purposes and will be returned to the applicant subsequent to processing. In the event that the applicant has misplaced – or does not currently possess their expired passport – the passport renewal process cannot be completed by mail; the applicant must apply for a new passport in person at a Passport Office or an alternatively-recognized facility.
4. Passport Renewal Fee:
The passport renewal fee for a passport card is $75, while the passport renewal fee for a passport book is $95. Payment should be made in the form of credit card, check, or money order; individuals are never encouraged to send cash through the mail.
Passport Renewal Processing Period
The US passport renewal process can last up to 6 weeks; as a result, the individual applying for the renewal of their passport is encouraged to allow an ample amount of time for the completion of this process. Since international travel is forbidden without a passport, whenever possible, the US passport renewal application should be completed far in advance of any travel plans.
However, in certain instances, there exist alternatives to waiting for the duration of the passport renewal processing period; expedition of a passport – when available – can be quite costly. For more information regarding the expedition of the passport renewal, please contact the United States Department of Travel through their toll-free phone number: (800) 4USA-PPT.
Mailing my Passport Renewal Application
Individuals participating in the US passport renewal process are encouraged to ship their application(s) through certified mail; by doing so, the application can be tracked and the delivery confirmed. However, only a single application for passport renewal can be sent per envelope.
In the event that an individual wishes to ship multiple passport renewal applications, the Department of Travel imposes a limit of one passport renewal application – in addition to one expired passport – per envelope; in order to ensure proper processing, please ship each individual US passport renewal application separately.
When is it time to renew my passport?
Due to the fact that passports range in the duration of time in which they are considered to be valid, there is no uniform statute of limitations to which passport renewals conform; however, in most cases, there exist 2 types of limitations and exceptions in regards to passports and their respective renewal:
US passports that are assigned to individuals under the age of 16 are considered to be valid for 5 years following the date of issue; subsequent to the passing of 5 years, US passport renewal is necessary
US passports that are assigned to individuals above the age of 16 are considered to be valid for 10 years following the date of issue; subsequent to the passing of 10 years, US passport renewal in necessary
Passport Cards vs. Passport Books
With regard to the passport renewal application process, both a passport card – as well as a passport book – can be renewed in the same fashion. Passport books and passport cards can be obtained separately or together, although the two vary in price.
A prominent distinction between a passport card and a passport book is the fact that while both passport cards and passport books allow entry into Canada, Mexico, and the Bahamas, these 3 countries are the only locations that accept passport cards upon entry; however, passport books are accepted worldwide – applications for the renewal of both passport cards and passport books can be submitted through the mail.