If you want to travel outside the United States, you will need a passport. However, like your driver’s license and the milk sitting in your refrigerator, passports expire. Before you get too far along in planning any international adventures, you better ensure you have a valid passport.
If your passport has expired or will expire before or during your trip, renewing it is a relatively simple process.
Today, we’ll walk you through what you need to do to quickly and easily renew your passport. Let’s dive in!
What Is a Passport?
A passport is a type of personal identification primarily used when traveling. Because it’s an official travel document, federal governments handle the processing and issuing of passports.
Since a passport contains your photo, name, birth date, gender, and physical description, a passport helps prove a traveler’s identity and citizenship.
How Long Are Passports Valid?
Passports expire after a certain amount of time. Passports issued to individuals 16+ are valid for 10 years. However, if you were under 16 when you got your passport, it’s valid for five years. If you have any future international plans, you must ensure you have a valid passport and that it won’t expire during your trip.
Some countries require travelers to have at least three to six months of validity left before their passport expires. Depending on where you’re traveling, you may need to renew your passport before it expires to avoid potential issues.
How Much Does It Cost to Renew Your Passport?
If you are 16 or older and need to renew your passport, costs can range from $30 to $160. Renewing a standard passport book is $130, while a passport card is only $30.
Renewing your passport is cheaper than applying for a new one because you don’t have to pay the $35 execution fee that new passport applicants must pay.
How to Renew Your Passport
The process of renewing your passport is fairly simple and straightforward. You can find all the forms and information on the U.S. Department of State website. However, you’ll need to put forth some effort to ensure you have all your ducks in a row when submitting your forms to renew your passport. Let’s take a closer look at this process.
Complete Application (Form DS-82)
Submit Most Recent Passport
You must send your most recent passport with your application. Don’t worry; you’ll receive your old passport later, but it will be in a separate mailing from your new passport. They’ll often punch a hole through the old passport book to make it easy for agents to identify invalid passports.
Submit Name Change Documents (If Applicable)
If you got married or changed your name since your first passport was issued, you’ll need to submit the appropriate legal documents. This could include a marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court-ordered name change document. Whichever name change document you choose will get returned to you separately from your new passport.
Get a Passport Photo
You’re going to need to get an updated passport picture as well. Because passport photos help identify the passport’s owner, there are specific requirements for these photos. You can have a friend or family member take your picture for you, but it’s essential to make sure you’re familiar with the requirements.
There are plenty of photo services available that are familiar with the rules and regulations for passport photos. These can be convenient ways to ensure your passport photo meets the requirements. A facility that offers these services isn’t likely going to do it for free, though. Expect to pay somewhere from $15 to $20.
You’ll need to pay any required fees when submitting your application. Submit a check or money order payable to the U.S. Department of State with your application. Because cash is untraceable, you should never send cash in the mail when renewing your passport.
Renewing your passport typically costs $130, but you can pay $60 to rush your application in many instances. Check out the U.S. Department of State’s passport fees section on their website for the most up-to-date information and any specific fees for your unique circumstances warrant.
Mail Completed Application
Once you’ve completed the application, gathered the forms, and paid the fees, it’s time to drop it all in the mail. Where you send your completed application and documents depends on where you live.
Residents of California, Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, and Texas send their documents to the National Passport Processing Facility in Irving, Texas. However, residents of all other states send their documents to the National Passport Processing Center in Philadelphia.
One of the hardest parts about the entire process of renewing your passport is the waiting. It can take weeks for the status of your passport to change. You may wait 10+ weeks in some instances to renew your passport. Even those who pay extra for expedited service will wait for five to seven weeks. You can track your application status on the U.S. Department of State website.
Can You Renew Your Passport Online?
The U.S. Department of State is currently in the testing phase of creating an online renewal system. However, it’s not available to just anybody. You must meet specific requirements to be eligible for this service.
If you need to renew your passport check the requirements and see if you’re eligible.
Can You Renew an Expired Passport?
You can renew an expired passport as long as it has been issued within the past 15 years. You must still have the passport, it must not be damaged, and you must have been 16 years or older when it was issued. If you meet these requirements, you can renew your expired passport.
See the World With Your Passport
Don’t make the mistake of trying to travel on an expired passport. You could put yourself in a messy situation that delays or ruins your travel plans. Take the time to check your passport expiration date well in advance so you have plenty of time to take the necessary steps to enjoy uninterrupted travel.
While the process can be time-consuming and require some effort, it’s not overly challenging. However, the effort required is worth it, as a passport can unlock the ability to travel to many exciting international locations.
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