When (and How) to Renew Your Passport Posted September 27, 2019
Your United States passport is your ticket to travel the world, and as such, it’s vital to keep it updated and ready to go. Some 2.8 million passports were issued or renewed in 2018, in addition to the 137.5 million currently in circulation, so it’s best to renew your passport early to avoid a time crunch. For more information on when and how to renew your passport, read on.
When should I renew my passport?
- When it’s close to expiring. Passports are valid for 10 years, and just to be safe, we recommend that all travelers’ passports be valid for six months after the date of return from your tour. So if your passport will be expiring either before, during, or shortly after your tour, we recommend you renew.
- When it’s nearly filled with ink. We also recommend renewing if your passport is almost filled with stamps. Many countries require a number of consecutive blank pages (as opposed to visa pages) in order to issue a passport stamp, so it’s time to renew if you don’t have many pages left.
- The earlier, the better. The State Department has said that standard processing of a U.S. passport takes 6-8 weeks, but a high volume of renewals can lead to longer than normal renewal times. If your passport has expired, you can still renew it up to five years after the expiration date, otherwise you need to apply for a new passport.
How do I renew my passport?
By mail: You can renew your passport by mail (at a cost of $110) if you meet the following qualifications:
- Your current passport is undamaged
- Your passport was issued in the last 15 years
- Your name has not changed in that time, or you can provide an original or certified copy of your name change (including a marriage license)
Simply download and complete the DS-82 form from the State Department website. Frequent international travelers will want to check the box requesting a 52-page passport (rather than the standard 28), which comes at no extra cost.
If you do not meet any of the qualifications listed above, you will need to renew your passport in person. For this process, you’ll need to bring the following:
- A completed DS-11 form
- Your current passport (even if it’s expired)
- A photo ID (a driver’s license should suffice), along with a photocopy of the ID
- A check for the $35 for a processing fee
Visit the Passport Acceptance Facility search page to find the nearest location that will let you renew your passport in person.
Where can I learn more?
Read our detailed blog post, Essential Knowledge: Passports and REAL ID, to answer any lingering questions you have about passports for international trips and the government’s REAL ID program for domestic travel.
We hope these tips help you enjoy a worry-free travel experience, and you can begin to fill your new passport with stamps from across the globe.
Passport image via Flickr