Simple Steps
For Renewing a Passport

The easiest and cheapest way for renewing a passport is to do it by mail. 

There are some simple requirements you need to satisfy when renewing a pass-port by mail, but as long as you meet the guidelines and qualifications, it’s an easy, straightforward process.

How do you know if you qualify for this easy passport renewal process? Check the following items:

  • Is your current passport undamaged and in good condition?
  • Was your current passport issued when you were 16 years old or older?
  • Was your current passport issued less than 15 years ago?
  • Is your current passport in your possession? [You must submit it for renewal.]
  • Is your name still the same as it shows on your existing passport?
  • Or, do you have documentation to reflect a legal name change?

If you can answer yes to the above questions, you qualify for renewing your passport by mail.

Hill Town in Portugal

Renewing a passport is generally done when your current one is expired, or when there’s not enough validity [time] remaining for an upcoming overseas trip.

The first thing you should do once you decide you'll be traveling outside the U.S. is to check how long your current passport is valid.  

You must have at least six months remaining validity from the time your trip will end in order to travel with your current passport document. 

Both airline and immigration officials can [and will] restrict your travel, if your passport will expire sooner than 6 months beyond the end of your trip. 

Tour companies will usually not allow you to finalize tour arrangements unless, or until, your passport has the required remaining validity.

And, if for some reason you make it onto your flight and arrive at your destination country, they will not let you enter.

Steps For Renewing a Passport

Renewing a passport requires fewer documents than when you applied for a passport the first time.

Passport renewals are done by using a DS-82 passport application form, which is available for down-load on the Department of State website. [Be sure to print on one side of the paper only.]

You can also pick up a DS-82 application form at any designated passport acceptance facility [post office, library, or municipal office].

The DS-82 is a two-page form with an additional four pages of information, and instructions for renewing a passport.

Amsterdam Canal Houses

Note: There is no passport renewal application form for children. Children's passports are good for only 5 years and cannot be renewed.

The passport renewal application form should be completed fully and truthfully in black ink

Always include an email address on the application, so the issuing passport agency can contact you, if necessary.

This can save days or even weeks of lost time, if there's a problem or need for additional information. 

Once you’ve completed both pages of the application form, sign and date it on the first page

Always review your completed form to be sure it’s correct.

Make a copy of the completed application for your records.

You must include the following with your completed renewal application form:

Your current or most recent U.S. passport, even if expired. It will be cancelled and returned to you.

One recent color photograph: The passport photo requirement now requires only one 2” X 2” color photo. The photo must be recently taken - within the last six months.            

[For complete information on how to dress appropriately for your passport photo, see the requirements here.]

You are now allowed to submit a photo taken with a personal digital camera, but it's highly advisable you purchase your photo from a business that regularly takes passport photos.

There are background, lighting, size-ratio, and paper quality requirements that must be met, or the photo will be rejected.

Staple the photo to your DS-82 application form with 4 staples, as directed on the application.

Social Security Number: As with a first-time passport application, you must include your Social Security Number when renewing a passport. Failure to provide your number can result in a monetary fine, as well as non-issuance of your passport.

Passport renewal fee:  If you’re over age 16, the total fee for renewing a passport book is $110.00. There's no execution fee for a renewal passport.          

You can pay either by personal check, bank check, or Money Order, which should be made payable to the 'Department of State'.

Print your full name and date of birth on the front of your check or Money Order. This should match exactly with the information on your passport application form.

Name change: If your name has legally changed due to marriage, you must submit your certified marriage certificate to substantiate the change. Your document will be returned to you.          

If you’ve legally changed your name for other reasons, such as an adoption or divorce, you must submit a certified court order showing both the official court seal and judicial signature of the action. These documents will also be returned.

All documents must be originals. Photocopies will not be accepted.

Sending Your Passport Renewal By Mail

The mailing address for renewing a passport is located below and in the instruct-tions accompanying the DS-82 application. 

All renewal passports are sent to the National Passport Processing Center in Philadelphia. Since the address is a Post Office Box, you can’t use FedEx. 

Gather your signed application, your required documents, the correct fee, and put them in a secure envelope. Use either a strong padded envelope or one of the woven types, and seal it securely.

The DOS suggests you use a properly sized envelope for sending your application and documents, so they fit without folding. These are important, and often legal documents, which should be protected from damage and loss. Don't use a stan-dard letter-sized envelope.

If renewing a passport in the normal [not expedited] processing time, send your documents to: 

National Passport Processing Center
P.O. Box 90155
Philadelphia, PA 19190-0155

Mail your application at a U.S. Post Office and pay for either Delivery Confirma-tion or Signature Confirmation. These are both traceable Priority Mail options and are quicker than Certified or Registered Mail.

For a small additional fee you can confirm that your package is received. Ask the postal agent about 'Track and Confirm' service. Your package should be received within 2-3 days.

Shipping Traffic on the Rhine

It's not necessary to use Express Service for doing a passport renewal by mail, if you've allowed the proper amount of time for the process.

Express Service is the Post Office's version of overnight delivery and will add substantially to your shipping costs.

Only if you're short on time or doing an expedited passport renewal, is it worth the extra dollars for faster shipping. And unless you use Express Service [overnight delivery] in both directions [twice the fee], you'll only save a few days' time.

[Note: there's a different P.O. Box number for an expedited [quicker] renewal, plus an extra charge. To expedite your renewal, send to P.O. Box 90955, zip 19190-0955, and pay the extra expedite fee of $60.00.]

Once your new passport is issued, it will be mailed to you. Your old one – now cancelled [invalidated] – will be returned to you, but may arrive separately.

Check your new passport to make sure all the information is correct

Sign it immediately with your name exactly as it appears on the information page. 

Keep your old cancelled passport in a safe place. It’s still your best source of personal identity and can be used as such, if you lose your new one and need to apply for a replacement.

For further information on what to do after you receive your new passport, check here.

Renewing a passport is not difficult, if you carefully follow the directions and  include the correct documents, photo, and fees. 

Mail it securely, get a receipt.  And before you know it, your new U.S. pass-port will be in your hands.

Please see our other articles with current, updated  information on passport application procedures:

Getting A Passport

Applying For A Passport

Passports For Children

Child Passport Application

Need A Rush Passport?

Using A Passport Expediting Service

Atlanta Passport Agency

Return to Understanding Passports And Visas

Travel Tip

One you have your new passport in hand, take time to read the pre-printed information on the first few pages. There are informational tips from the State Department that could help you while you're traveling. 

Fill out the emergency contact information in pencil, in case it changes. Use an email address for a U.S. or foreign temporary address. If you lose your passport, an honest finder can contact you quickly via the internet.

Also, use your email address - rather than your home address - for security reasons. If you lose your passport while traveling, your empty house won't be a target for thieves.

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