How to Renew a Current Passport

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If your United States passport is still current but close to expiring, you may need to renew it before traveling abroad. The process is not difficult, but whether you are renewing in person or renewing by mail, you'll need to follow some steps before you hand your current passport over. If your passport has been damaged, you will need to apply in person. Otherwise, if you are older than 16, you can usually renew by mail.

Things You'll Need

  • Two new passport photos
  • Current passport
  • Form DS-82 (if current passport is undamaged and you are applying by mail)
  • Form DS-11 (if applying in person)
  • Passport fee
  • Tyvek envelope (or similar envelope, if applying by mail)

How to Renew a Current Passport

  • Acquire two new passport photos. These can be shot at some retail drug stores and photography studios. The government has specific size and resolution requirements for passport photos--it's easiest to have qualified professionals take these for you.

  • Fill out the appropriate forms. If you plan on applying by mail, your current passport is undamaged, you are over 16 and your name hasn't changed (or you can document the change), fill out form DS-82 . Otherwise, fill out form DS-11. You can get these forms online or in person (from the post office or other passport acceptance facilities).

  • Gather the necessary fees. As of August 2009, the fee for renewal (non-expedited) was $75. This amount may change. Use a check or money order for the fees if mailing in the passport renewal. Do not send cash.

  • Make photo copies of your current passport (the inside pages, which contain your information and passport number) and store in a safe place. This is important in case your passport is stolen or lost in the mail.

  • Place your current passport, the completed form and a check or money order for fees in a protective envelope (one that will protect the passport and forms from moisture) if you are mailing your renewal. If you are renewing in person, bring your passport, your forms and fees to your nearest passport acceptance facility. You can locate your closest facility by searching on the U.S. Department of State's website.

Tips & Warnings

  • If traveling overseas, you must get a passport book. Passport cards are different from passport books. Cards can be used for land or sea travel to and from Mexico, Bermuda, the Caribbean and Canada but not for international travel (to Europe, for example). Passport authorities recommend using a traceable mailing service such as Priority mail with delivery confirmation.
  • If planning a trip, renew far enough in advance to ensure your new passport will arrive in time--it usually takes up to six weeks. Even expedited service takes up to three weeks. If your passport is lost or stolen, you should inform passport authorities immediately.

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