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A Guide To Renewing Your U.S. Passport

A passport is the most crucial document you must possess regarding international travel. And like all other documents, passports must be renewed after a certain period. 

If it is issued when the passport holder is 16 years or older, the validity period is ten years. For children below 16, the passports need to be renewed every five years.

Getting a renewal is a much quicker process than first-time applying for a passport. You don’t have to show up in person, but you’ll need to carefully follow all instructions for a fast processing time. 

Follow this guide to learn the complete passport renewal process.

When to Renew Your Passport?

The usual practice of an easy US passport renewal is when it expires, most often about six months before its expiration date. However, there are other situations when the renewal should be done ahead of time.

  • If you travel often and you have only a few blank visa pages;
  • If your passport has curled page edges and shows signs of wear;
  • If your physical appearance has changed drastically;
  • If you legally changed your name for whatever reason.

Eligibility for Passport Renewal

To renew your passport, you need to meet specific criteria. Usually, you need to book an appointment at the appropriate passport-issuing institution and complete a form. Here are the other essential eligibility regulations:

  • Children under 16 carry a minor’s passport, valid only for five years. Once they turn 16, they must apply for their first adult passport. This procedure should be done in person.
  • You cannot renew a passport that has expired for more than five years.
  • The passport must be in your possession. Stolen or lost passports cannot be renewed, but you can ask for a replacement.
  • Passports have to be in good shape and not be damaged. If your passport is in bad condition but is still valid for an extended period, you’ll need to request a passport replacement, not a renewal. 

The Process of Renewing a US Passport

It only takes a few steps to apply for an eligible online renewal, but those who are not eligible will need to apply in person. Follow the below list of documents you’ll need to gather for passport renewal, and you’ll have your application ready in no time. 

  • You have to submit your current US passport that meets all the requirements;
  • Submit a front/back photocopy of a valid state ID;
  • Fill out a passport renewal DS-82 Form. You can fill it out offline or online and print it;
  • Attach a recent passport photo to the application. Be sure it meets the photo requirements;
  • You should include a certified copy of the name change if you are using a different name (court-ordered document, marriage certificate, divorce decree, etc.);
  • Calculate passport fees and include a money order or personal check. You cannot pay the fees in cash or online. The costs for rush and routine services differ; you must check for the ones that apply to you. 
  • Once completed, you should send the application and all accompanying documents for processing. Where you’ll send them depends on your current location. If you live in the US, you’ll need to send the application to the National Passport Processing Center. Those outside the United States should contact the closest US Embassy or Consulate.
  • Once submitted, you can check the application status online. It takes a week or two for the application to arrive and for the payment to be processed. 

How Long is the Passport Renewal Process?

The passport renewal process varies depending on the service you selected. For those that need a regular passport renewal by mail, the processing will take between 8 and 11 weeks. Note that the processing of the application starts when it’s received at the National Passport Processing Center or Agency. 

There are cases when a passport is needed faster, like an international journey. For this, you can use the expedited passport renewal process. If you are traveling within 5 to 7 weeks, you can have your passport for an additional $60 in government fee. You can apply by post or at any acceptance facility.

An appointment is needed for those urgent but non-emergency international travel within 14 days. Passport agencies may offer this service, but there is no guarantee that you will get an appointment. A proof will be required for urgent travel in the form of a purchased airline ticket. 

There is also a possibility of getting a passport within three business days, but this is only for life-or-death emergency international travel. This process will require a purchased ticket and proof of a life-or-death emergency. 

Faster Delivery and Return Options

The faster the passport renewal application reaches us, the sooner the processing will start. If you are using the US Postal Service, there is an option, Priority Mail Express for faster delivery. The price will depend on the area. 

You can get a faster return of the documents within 1-2 days after they are sent. However, for that service, you’ll need to send an $18.32 fee to the US Department of State and the passport fee. 


Can my passport be renewed if it’s still valid?

You don’t have to wait until your passport expires to renew it. Anytime between 6-12 months is good. If you are planning an international trip, renew your passport on time. You should know that some countries will ask you to have a valid passport for at least six months before the travel date. 

Can I renew a passport that is expired?

Yes, an expired passport can only be renewed within 15 years of the date that it was issued. You must have been 16 or older, the passport must be in good condition, and you must have it in your possession. If you changed your name in the meantime and it doesn’t match the one in the passport, you must submit legal proof that you changed your name.

My passport has a valid visa. Can I use it when I renew my passport?

Yes, a valid visa in your old passport can still be used even though the passport will no longer be valid for international travel. Be sure to travel both your old and new passports in such a case. 

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