How to Renew Passports: Everything You Need to Know

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If you’ve previously applied for a U.S. passport, renewing one should be a breeze—or a strong gust. It takes some organization, planning, and yep, a bit of money. Discover how to renew your passport, whether in person or by mail.

When should you renew your passport?

Set a calendar announcement six months before your passport is set to expire, reminding you to get the process started. Does it take six months? No. But since many countries require at least three months’ validity left on your passport (and others six), it pays to give yourself some buffer time in case passport wait times are longer than usual. Most passports and passport cards are valid for ten years from the date of issue.

Can you renew your passport by mail or do you have to renew it in person?

You can renew your passport by mail if you meet certain criteria. Ask yourself:

  • Was the passport issued within the last 15 years?
  • Is it undamaged?
  • Is it issued in your current name?
  • Were you at least 16 when you got it?
  • Can you confirm that your passport has never been mutilated, damaged, lost, stolen, and subsequently found?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, then you are unable to renew your passport by mail, and must apply in person. If you answered “yes” to all of them, then you’re able to apply by mail.

How do you renew your passport by mail?

If you’re renewing your passport by mail, you’ll need to fill out a DS-82 form, which can be downloaded online and asks for standard information—think social security number, address, most recent passport number. (You’ll also be able to select whether or not you want a “regular” book or a larger, 52-page passport.)

Print out the form, and attach one photo to the application with staples. Enclose your current passport (don’t worry, you’ll get it back), the form, and a check with the appropriate fee, which will be at least $110. Include name-change documents if applicable (a marriage certificate, for example), and mail your completed application and supporting materials in an envelope large enough to fit the application without folding.

Ensure you’ve signed up for a trackable delivery method. Your new passport will be delivered via Priority Mail with Delivery Confirmation, unless you pay for Priority Express return service. Your old passport may arrive separately, and will probably have holes punched through it.

How do you renew your passport in person?

When you apply in person, you’ll need to bring the following:

  • a completed DS-11 passport application form
  • provide proof of citizenship
  • an accepted form of ID (your driver’s license should suffice)
  • additional documentation, depending on what you answered “no” to in the first round of questions
  • $25 for an execution fee

Where can you apply for passport renewal in person?

You can apply in person at the nearest regional passport office—there are 27 around the country, located in the following major cities:

  • Atlanta, GA
  • Aurora, CO
  • Boston, MA
  • Buffalo, NY
  • Chicago, IL
  • Dallas, TX
  • Detroit, MI
  • El Paso, TX
  • Honolulu, HI
  • Hot Springs, AR
  • Houston, TX
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Miami, FL
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • New Orleans, LA
  • New York, NY
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Portsmouth, NH
  • San Diego, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Seattle, WA
  • St. Albans, VT
  • Stamford, CT
  • Tucson, AZ
  • Washington, D.C.

Note: Some passport agencies require an appointment to renew passports, while others don’t. It’s best to contact the agency you plan on visiting beforehand to learn its policy.

Can you renew your passport online?

Nope! (Too bad it’s not that easy.)

What are the requirements for a passport photo?

Bad photos are the main reason passport applications are denied, which makes it all the more important you know the rules before you head for the photo booth in, say, your local Walgreens.

  • The photo must be 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm) in size, with the top of the head between 1-1 3/8 inches (25-35 mm) from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head.
  • The photo must be in color, and the background all white or off-white.
  • Your head has to facing the camera directly with your full face in view.
  • You can smile—but that smile should be “natural” and both eyes should be open.
  • All of the following are forbidden: headphones; wireless, hands-free devices; and hats or head coverings, unless they are worn on a religious basis.
  • Glasses aren’t allowed. If you have to wear glasses for a medical condition, you’ll need to submit a signed statement with your U.S. passport or U.S. visa application from a medical professional or health practitioner.

How much does it cost to renew a passport?

The cost of an adult passport book is $110 for both renewals and first-time applicants. A passport card is $30, and a passport book and card together are $140. Cash isn’t accepted, and checks must be made payable to “U.S. Department of State.” On the front of the check, print the full name and date of birth of the applicant. For expedited service, you’ll pay an additional $60 if applying by mail or in person.

How long does it take to get a passport once you’ve mailed it in?

Routine processing takes 4-5 weeks from the date of application, including mailing time. If you’ve already applied for a passport, you can check its status online.

Can you expedite your passport renewal?

If you need your passport in a hurry, you have to options. First up, there’s expedited service, whether by mail (2-3 weeks) or in person (according to the State Department, getting an expedited passport at an agency takes eight days).

Insiders have told Condé Nast Traveler that these agencies are sometimes able to process passports in one to two days, depending on proof of “immediate” international travel. This, however, can be a time-consuming process that requires the physical presence of the passport holder-to-be. This is where third-party expeditors like Fastport Passport come in: For a fee (upwards of $150), you can fill out and ship paperwork to a the registered third party, which is then allowed to submit expedited passport applications on behalf of customers. They then hand deliver the information to a state agency and return a passport to the customer in as fast as 24 hours—think of it as a butler service, but for your passport.

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