A passport can only be renewed by mail if it is undamaged and still in the applicant’s possession. If your passport is expired and in your possession, you may be able to renew it by mail (see Renew Expired Passport in the Reference section). But if the passport has been lost, stolen or damaged, travelers must submit an application for a new U.S. passport in person at a passport acceptance facility. Follow these steps to ensure that your passport application is processed properly and arrives in time for your next trip abroad.
Things You'll Need
- Completed Form DS-11
- Passport application and execution fees
- Evidence of U.S. citizenship
- Current identification
- Two identical passport photographs
Fill out and submit Form DS-11, which details your biographical information, physical description and travel plans. You can download and print the form on the U.S. Department of State website or pick up a copy at a passport acceptance facility. Fill out the form accurately and in its entirety, but do not sign yet. You will be instructed to do so by a passport agent when you apply in person. To avoid a delay in processing times, be sure to write legibly and in black ink.
Obtain two identical photographs compliant with the U.S. Department of State’s guidelines for passport photographs. Photographs must be in color, measure 2-by-2 inches, focus on the applicant’s head and shoulders and be set against a white or off-white background. When you have your photograph taken, be sure to dress in your normal attire. For example, if you wear a toupee, glasses or hearing aid, wear them while sitting for the photograph. You can purchase passport photographs at many convenience stores and pharmacies. AAA members can obtain them at their local AAA agency.
Gather evidence of your U.S. citizenship for submission with your application. Since you don’t have a previously issued passport in your possession, the following documents will be accepted as suitable proof of citizenship: a birth certificate, consular report of birth abroad, naturalization certificate or certificate of birth abroad. After the application is processed, the U.S. Department of State will mail the document to you along with the passport.
Determine the application and execution fees needed to process your passport application. The execution fee goes to the facility processing the application, and the application fee is given to the U.S. Department of State. Fees will vary depending on whether you are applying for a passport card, passport book or both. A passport card is a cheaper, wallet-size alternative to a passport book that can be used only for land and sea travel to Mexico, Canada, Bermuda and the Caribbean. Acceptable methods of payment will vary depending on whether you apply at a passport agency or passport acceptance facility. Use the link in the Resources section to determine your fees and the methods of payment accepted.
Gather all the necessary documentation and fees and head to your nearest passport acceptance facility. If you need the passport in less than two weeks for a trip or less than four weeks for a foreign visa application, make an appointment at a regional passport agency. Agencies and facilities can be found through the links in the Resource section. In addition to all the application materials, bring current identification to show to the passport agent. Agents accept any of the following documents as current identification: a driver’s license, government or military ID or a naturalization certificate.