Do you have an expired passport? If so, you will need to renew it before you leave the United States. Whether you’re driving across the border, taking a cruise ship or flying, you need a current U.S. passport. In many cases, you can complete the entire renewal process online and don’t need to schedule an in-person acceptance facility. However, you still need to mail your documents and payment to a processing center.

The renewal process is easy but can take up to 6 weeks to receive your new passport. Some countries require your passport to be valid for at least 6 months beyond your travel dates. Even if your passport is still current, you can follow the same steps to renew your passport before traveling.

Passports expire every 10 years when you are age 16 or older. Child passports (age 15 or younger) expire every 5 years. You can quickly find your passport expiration date on the inside front cover.

Renewing Your Expired Passport The Easy Way

The passport renewal process is easy and starts online. Don’t go to a local acceptance facility as the renewal process is different than the initial application process. You can renew by mail when your passport meets these criteria:

  • Passport is undamaged (besides normal “wear and tear”)
  • Your passport isn’t lost or stolen
  • Issued when you were at least 16 years or older
  • Issued within the last 15 years
  • Your current name hasn’t changed (or you can verify your updated legal name with an original or certified copy of your marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court order)

Note that if you are traveling soon and need help getting the process expedited, you will need to call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778 to renew in-person at an available facility. Otherwise, a general rule of thumb is that you can renew by mail if your passport has expired within the last 5 years.

What You Need

You will need your most recent passport book and emergency contact information. Since you will need to print and mail the application form with your expired passport, you will need Adobe Acrobat installed on your computer (to complete the printable PDF forms) and a printer. Depending on your browser, you may already have it installed.

Complete Form DS-82

You can renew your passport by mail if your adult passport expired less than 5 years ago and you currently reside in the United States or Canada. If so, you can head to the U.S. Department of State website and complete Form DS-82. This is the “Renewal Application” form on the State Department website.

On the website, you can either click the Form Filler or PDF button. The Form Filler is interactive and ensures you complete the correct form the first time. You will enter your personal and passport information and print the final form.

If renewing from outside the United States or Canada, you will need to visit a local U.S. embassy or consulate.

Remember that children under age 16 cannot use this form to renew their passport. They will need to complete Form DS-11 which is the application form you used to apply for your initial application.

Take Passport Photos

After printing your Form DS-82, the next step is getting ready to mail your application and passport via snail mail. You will need to attach one new passport photo to your application.

You can use the Passport Booth app to take your own photos and print them for as little as $0.50 each that you pick up at a local store. Or you can head to a local business or government office but you may pay more. For instance, you might pay $14 for a CVS or Walgreens clerk to take the same photo.

Make sure you read the passport photo requirements to make sure you don’t need to resend a proper photo.

Pay Passport Renewal Fees

You will also need to send payment with your application. It can either be a personal check or money order payable to the “U.S. State Department.”

Your exaction application fee depends on which passport documents you order:

  • Passport Book: $110
  • Passport Card: $30
  • Book and Card: $140

For instance, if you already have a passport book but want a passport card, you will complete Form DS-82 and pay $30 for routine processing.

Additional Service Fees

Standard shipping is free and it can take between 4 and 6 weeks to receive your new passport. You will need to pay extra ($16.48) for 1-2 day expedited shipping once your new passport ships.

If you can’t wait a month for your renewed passport, you should choose the expedited service option. It costs an additional $60. Your passport can be delivered to a local agency within 8 business days or mailed to you within 2 or 3 weeks.

The expedited processing and shipping services are only available within the United States. You will need to choose the routine service if renewing outside the United States.

Mail Expired Passport

The final step is mailing your documents to the processing center. Mailing instructions are included when you print your Form DS-82.

There are two different processing centers in the United States. One is in Irving, TX and the other is in Philadelphia, PA. Which center you mail your application to depends on which state you live in for routine processing. If you reside in Canada or select expedited processing, you will mail your documents to the Philadelphia facility.

You will need to mail your documents via U.S. mail since they are being sent to a P.O. Box. Use Canada Post if you are renewing your passport from Canada.

Mail these items to the appropriate National Passport Processing Center:

  • Most recent U.S. passport book
  • One recent passport photo
  • Passport fees
  • Form DS-82 (the form you printed out)

Receive New Passport

Your new passport will arrive in a separate mailing from your old passport and any supporting documents. Usually, the new passport arrives first. Once you get your new passport, you can travel abroad for the next decade before you need to complete the renewal process again.

When You Can’t Renew Passport By Mail

You won’t be able to renew your passport by mail, for some of these reasons:

  • Your passport expired at least 5 years ago
  • Your passport was lost, stolen, or damaged
  • You currently reside outside the United States or Canada
  • Have a child’s passport although over age 16
  • Are still under age 16

If you fall into one of the four categories above, you must complete Form DS-11 and apply in-person. This option can also require you to pay a $35 execution (acceptance) fee in addition to the standard application, processing and shipping fees.

Also, you won’t be able to renew your passport if you are at least $2,500 behind in child support payments.

Summary

The renewal process is easy and cheaper when your passport expired less than 5 years ago. All renewal applications start online and finish by mailing your documents to the National Passport Processing Center. If you no longer have your most recent passport or it expired at least 5 years ago, you need to complete the initial application again.

 

This article was written by Geoff Whitmore from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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