Did you know that damaging your passport could make it harder for you to renew it? It’s true -there’s a separate process for renewing a damaged passport, and it’s much more involved. Here’s the scoop on the differences between damaged renewals and regular renewals.
Apply in Person
If your passport is undamaged or only has normal wear and tear, you’re most likely eligible to renew it by mail, without having to visit a passport office. However, if you’ve damaged your passport, you must apply to replace it in person. If you send the Department of State a damaged passport in an attempt to renew it, it will be sent back. You’ll have to apply all over again in person, and this means that you won’t receive your passport as quickly. Also, you’ll have to pay additional application fees.
How do you tell the difference between “damage” and normal wear and tear? In many cases, the differences are obvious: if your passport has been water-damaged, chewed on by animals or small children, cut into pieces or pages have been torn out, you must renew it in person.
On the other hand, if it’s just bent from being in your pocket, you shouldn’t have any problems renewing by mail. However, whether or not your passport counts as “significantly damaged” is up to the discretion of the State Department. If there’s any question in your mind, go ahead and apply in person at a post office or other passport acceptance facility.
If you’re eligible to apply for a regular passport renewal by mail, all you’ll need is your current passport and one passport photo in most cases.
If your name has changed since your last passport was issued, you’ll also need to send legal documents to support your name change request for your new passport.
However, damaged renewals require some additional documentation. First, you’ll need proof of identity. Your driver’s license or state ID card will do. You’ll need both the original ID and a photocopy. Next, you’ll need proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, naturalization certificate or certificate of citizenship.
Take these documents to the passport office along with one passport photo. At the office, you’ll complete passport application form DS-11 and Form DS-64. Once you’ve submitted the paperwork, you should have your new passport in about 6 weeks. If you’d like it faster, you can pay the $ 60 expedite fee to get it within 3 weeks.
If you need to replace your damaged passport more quickly due to a pending international trip, you can apply for an emergency damaged renewal at one of the country’s 24 regional Passport Agency offices or submit your application through a private expediting company.
Alison Kroulek is a freelance writer and blogger with a focus on the travel industry.