Compared to getting a new passport, renewing an expiring passport is a relatively simple affair. However, since it’s not something you have to do often, it’s common to have questions about the process. When it comes to getting a US passport renewal, here are some of the most common questions people ask, along with clear, easy-to-understand answers.
When Should I Apply for My US Passport Renewal?
Passports issued to adults over the age of 16 are valid for 10 years. According to the State Department, the best time to renew your passport is about nine months before it expires. That may seem like overkill; after all, nine months is the better part of a year, and shouldn’t you get the ten years you paid for?
However, if you travel overseas with any frequency at all, it’s a good idea to follow the Department of State’s advice. Many countries won’t allow you to enter if your passport has less than 6 months to go before it expires, and applying for your US passport renewal nine months beforehand allows plenty of time to get the new passport issued before you start to run up against that six month limit.
Where Do I Renew My Passport?
Most people are eligible for US passport renewal by mail. You can renew by mail as long as all of the following statements are applicable to you:
Your current US passport is still in your possession and has not been lost or stolen.
Your current passport is in good condition.
Your current passport was issued after you turned 16.
It has been less than 15 years since the passport was issued.
If your name has changed since your last passport was issued, you are able to send legal documents that support your name change request.
What Documents Do I Need?
To apply for a passport renewal by mail, you’ll need to send the following documents to the Department of State:
A completed copy of renewal application form DS-82
Your current passport
One passport photo
Where applicable, legal documents such as a marriage certificate or a divorce decree to back up any name change requests.
Money to pay the fees.
How Much Will It Cost?
If you’re applying for only the standard passport book, you’ll pay an application fee of $ 110.
At just $ 30, the passport card may seem like a bargain, but keep in mind that you can’t use it for international air travel at all. It can only be used for land and sea travel to the following regions: Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. If you want both a passport book and a passport card, you’ll pay $ 140.
How Long Will it Take?
Processing times vary seasonally depending on the Department of State’s workload. However, it usually takes about 6 weeks for a US passport renewal request to be completed. You can apply for expedited service by paying a $ 60 expedite fee in addition to your application fee and writing “Expedite” on the envelope. Expedited applications are generally processed within three weeks. For emergency passport renewals, you can make an appointment at one of 25 regional passport agency offices across the country by calling 1-800-209-4565.
Alison Kroulek is a freelance writer and blogger with a focus on the travel industry.