US Passport Renewal 101

When issued to an adult over the age of 16, a US passport remains valid for 10 years. After that, you’ll have to renew it before you can use it for travel. Getting a US passport renewal is a slightly different procedure than getting a new passport. Here’s a breakdown of what you need to know before you apply:


Applying by Mail


When you apply for a passport the first time, you have to go in to a passport acceptance office and submit your application in person. However, when you renew, you may be eligible to submit your renewal application by mail instead. You can apply for a US passport renewal by mail if and only if you can say “yes” to all of the following questions:


Do you still have your old US passport? Is it undamaged and in good condition?

Were you 16 or older when it was issued to you?

Was it issued within the last 15 years?

Was it issued in the name you currently use OR can you submit legal documentation of any changes?


If you answered “no” to any of the questions above, you cannot renew by mail and must appear at a Passport Acceptance facility, just as if you were applying for a new passport.


Gathering the Paperwork


To submit your US passport renewal application by mail, you’ll need the following:


A copy of the application form DS-82

Your current US passport

Two passport photos

Legal documentation, such as a marriage certificate or divorce decree, to prove any name changes

$ 110 just for a passport book, $ 30 just for a passport card and $ 140 for both


Once you send in the application, allow 6 weeks for processing.

If you can’t wait that long, pay an additional $ 60 expedite fee and write “Expedite” on the envelope. Also, pay for overnight delivery to and from the passport office. This will get you your passport in 3 weeks. If you need it even sooner, make an appointment to be seen at a Regional Passport Agency or use a private expediting company to further reduce the processing time.


Alison Kroulek is a freelance writer and blogger with a focus on the travel industry.

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