How Do I Get My Passport Renewed?

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U.S. Biometric Passport
U.S. Biometric Passport

You can apply for U.S. passport renewal by mail or in person. All new U.S. passports are biometric; they include an electronic chip in them. U.S. passport cards are also available for greater convenience, although these cards can only be used to travel to Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas and the Caribbean by land and sea crossings.

Renewal by Mail

The easiest way to apply for U.S. passport renewal is by mail. You can apply for renewal by mail if your most recent passport is undamaged, you were at least 16 years of age when it was issued, it was not issued more than 15 years ago, and it was either issued in your current name or you can legally document your name change. If all of these are true, you will need to fill in Form DS-82. You can fill in the online form or print a paper form at travel.state.gov/passport/forms/ds82/ds82_843.html.

Make sure to fill in the form completely and accurately. Don't forget to sign and date it. Along with the form, include 2 passport photos, the applicable fees, and a marriage certificate or court order if you need to document your name change. Your passport photos must be 2 in x 2 in with a white background. They must be high quality prints with good contrast and lighting. Avoid sending overexposed or shadowy photos. Do not wear a hat or sunglasses for your passport photo. Head coverings are only allowed for religious reasons.

If you are applying for a passport book, the fee is $75. A passport card costs $20. You can apply for a passport card along with a passport book even if you do not already own a passport card. When applying by mail, you can pay only by check or money order. Make checks and money orders payable to "Department of State," and be sure to send the correct amount.

It takes 4 to 6 weeks to process passport renewal applications, so make sure you give yourself ample time before your next international trip. If you need your passport sooner, you can pay the $60 expediting fee to get it in 2 to 3 weeks. There is a different mail in address for expedited passport renewals.

Renewal in Person

If you do not meet the requirements for passport renewal by mail, you will need to apply in person at an Acceptance Facility or U.S. Agency. You can usually do this at your city's main post office.

Fill in Form DS-11. It is faster and easier to fill out the form online, but you can fill it out by hand. If you fill it out by hand, you must write legibly in black ink. Fill in the form completely and accurately. Be sure to sign and date the form. Both online and print versions of the form are found at travel.state.gov/passport/forms/ds11/ds11_842.html.

You will need to provide your Social Security Number and proof of U.S. citizenship. You can use a previously issued, undamaged U.S. passport, birth certificate with a raised seal, naturalization certificate, certificate of citizenship, or consular report of birth abroad. You will also need to present government issued identification at the Acceptance Facility. Bring a photo of the same identification to submit with your application. Your proof of U.S. citizenship will be submitted along with your application, but your original documents will be returned to you. You can not use photocopies. All certified documents must bear an official seal.

Include 2 passport photos. Photos must be 2 in x 2 in and taken in normal street attire. Only wear glasses in the photo if they are your normal prescription glasses. Photos must have a white background and be professional quality.

Acceptable methods of payment vary based on where you apply for passport renewal. Application for a passport book costs $75, while a passport card costs $20. All applications are subject to a $25 processing fee. Verify with the Acceptance Facility what types of payment are accepted. Sometimes the processing fee must be paid separately. Be prepared by bringing several payments options along with you: credit card, debit card, personal checks, and cash.

It usually takes 4 to 6 weeks for passport application to be processed. If you need your passport sooner, expedite the process for $60. Contact a Regional Passport Agency if you need your passport sooner than 4 weeks.

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