How to Dispose of Old Passports

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Destroy an old passport to prevent fraud.
Destroy an old passport to prevent fraud. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Whether you have a U.S. passport book or new format U.S. passport card, the travel document is only valid for a maximum of 10 years. When you apply for a new U.S. passport, you must include your old passport so your identity can verified. It will be returned to you along with your new passport. Some people keep expired passports -- belonging either to themselves or to deceased relatives -- as souvenirs or mementos, while others choose to dispose of them altogether. Shredding is the easiest, and safest, way to dispose of canceled passports.

Things You'll Need

  • Scissors
  • Shredder

Cut out the biometric page of your passport with scissors. This laminated sheet is the only one in the book that contains personal information related only to you. Thieves could use the personal information contained on this page to try and steal your identity, or to forge a passport or other document in your name.

Plug in and turn on a shredder. Place the biometric page into the machine's feeder slot and wait for the motion sensor to activate the cutting blades.

Detach the remaining passport pages, one by one, and feed them through the shredder until the entire book is destroyed.

Open the shredder's paper basket and check to be sure that the passport is in pieces, and cannot reasonably be re-assembled. Look specifically for separated strips -- if your shredder only perforated the pages, you will need to try again.

Tips & Warnings

  • Some people decide to only destroy the biometric page of their passport and retain the rest of the book as a keepsake.
  • The passport, including the biometric page, will burn if placed in a fireplace or bonfire. If you do not own a shredder, this is also an effective way of disposing of old passports.
  • Never simply throw a passport away. Even if the government has canceled it, it could still be used by thieves to commit forgery or identity theft.
  • Do not destroy a passport unless it has been officially canceled. Even if it is expired, you may need to present it to a passport agency in order to obtain a replacement.
  • Keep your fingers well away from the shredder's rotating blades to prevent injury.

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