U.S. Passport Renewal Tips
If you have upcoming international travel plans, one of the first things you need to do is check the validity of your U.S. passport. Waiting until the last minute to renew your passport can be costly and will occasionally sideline your travel plans. Start making preparations to renew your passport as early as a year in advance of the expiration date.
Even if you have obtained a U.S. passport at some point in your lifetime, that doesn’t automatically mean you’re eligible to send in a renewal request via traditional mail. For passport renewal by mail, you have to meet the following criteria:
- Prior U.S. passport was issued at the age of 16.
- Previous passport has not been lost or damaged and can be mailed in with your completed renewal application.
- The passport is expiring or has expired within the last five years.
If you need the passport sooner, or you don’t meet the above criteria, you must apply for a passport renewal in person. Although an expired passport is usually the reason individuals submit a new application, there are other incidences when a renewed passport is needed. The following individuals should get a new passport before traveling:
- You have legally changed your name and the passport was issued over a year ago.
- Passport booklet is running low on blank visa pages.
- Your passport has been damaged or is showing visible signs of wear and tear.
- Your appearance has changed drastically and your current passport photo no longer resembles you.
U.S. Passport Renewal Application Process
When renewing a passport by mail, you will need to fill out government form DS-82. The document is available for download via the U.S. Department of State’s website. Filing options include downloading the document and completing by hand or filling out the application online and printing out a hard copy of DS-82. The application requests basic background information such as contact details, birth date, social security number, and descriptions about your appearance. Along with the application, you’ll need to include a copy of your old passport booklet or card and any supporting documentation such as a court order or marriage certificate if you have undergone a name change.
New passport photos must be submitted with your application. The photos must measure 2 x 2 inches and not be bent or damaged. The photo should have clear lighting and be in focus. The background must be white. No smiles in the photo and head size must be at least 1 inch.
Timeframe and Fees
The fees for passport renewal can vary, but typically start at $110 in addition to a $25 processing fee. Passport renewal by mail may take up to eight weeks. For quicker service, you can pay to have your passport expedited through the Department of State with processing completed within two to three weeks. Passport expediting companies are also available for those who need their passport renewed in as little as one business day.