Depending on whether you need to renew your passport or are applying for one for the first time, you may do so either by snail mail or in person. You must meet all regulation requirements detailed in Section 1 below to renew your passport by mail. Otherwise, you will have to renew or apply in person.
Renewing By Mail (Requirements)
There are four requirements you must meet to renew your passport by mail. Your current passport must not be damaged in any way. In addition, it has to have been issued to you when you were 16 years old or older and issued no more than 15 years ago. The final requirement is that your passport includes your current name. (If your name has changed since your last passport was issued, you must provide legal documentation for the change.)
Renewing By Mail (Process)
If you meet all of the requirements listed above, you may proceed with the application process via mail. You must fill out the Form DS-82 and mail your current passport with your application. You may complete this form online (see the link in Resource section below) or print out the paper version to mail.
Mailing Your Renewal Application
After completing Form DS-82, assemble a package to include your current passport, two passport photos and a check or money order payment for applicable fees. If your name has been legally changed since your last passport was issued, you must also include with your package a marriage certificate or court order to indicate this change.
Mail all the components in a padded envelope to the address listed on Form DS-82. It is strongly recommended that you ask for a tracking number to be attached to your package to ensure it arrives at its destination.
Applying In Person (Requirements)
If your current passport has been damaged or altered in any way or if it was stolen or lost, you must apply for a new one in person. If you are applying for a passport for the first time, or if you are under 16 years old or your current passport was issued before you turned 16, you must also apply in person. Finally, if you have had a name change since your last passport was issued but are unable to provide any legal documentation of the change, you must also apply in person.
In addition, there are special requirements for minors under 16 years old, for minors between 16 and 17 and for diplomatic, official and regular no-fee passports. If you fit one of these descriptions, please refer to the link in the Resource section below for a list of requirements.
Applying In Person (Process)
Visit the link in the Resource section below to print a copy of Form DS-11. Fill out the form using a black ink pen. Do not sign the form.
Bring this form and your current passport to the nearest Acceptance Facility or Passport Agency, where you will be asked to sign it. (Note: If you have questions about a particular field on the form, leave it blank and a facilitator from the Acceptance Facility or Passport Agency will assist you.)
Renewals From Abroad
If you are a United States citizen who is currently living in Canada, you may renew your passport via mail. If you reside in any other country, you must renew your passport via the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate. To find the location closest to you, log on to http://www.usembassy.gov.