The US passport is a travel document issued by the Department of State that serves to prove the identity of its bearer when crossing borders. It is valid for 10 years for people over 16 years of age and 5 years for people 15 years of age or younger.
It is advisable to process the renewal of your passport when your current document has nine months of validity left. Read on to learn the requirements that are required to renew your passport!
US passport versions
There are two versions of the US passport:
- Passport card. It can only be used at land border crossings to Canada or Mexico or at sea crossings with the Caribbean and Bermuda.
- Passport book. It is required for all other international travel.
In this article, we will focus on how to renew your passport book, since this is the most common format used by American citizens.
Requirements to renew the US passport
Before starting your passport renewal process, you must make sure that this process is correct for your case. Passport renewals are done by mail, while first-time applications must be made in person.
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People eligible to renew the passport must meet the following five requirements :
- you physically have the passport to be renewed to be submitted with your application;
- the document has no damage other than that which occurs with everyday use;
- you were 16 years of age or older when your passport was issued;
- the date of issue of the passport you want to replace does not exceed 15 years old;
- the name on that document has not changed or you have documents to prove your name change.
What you should know: If you or your current passport does not meet one or more of the requirements listed here, you must apply for your passport as if it were the first time and you will not be able to go through the renewal process.
Documents required for the renewal process
If you meet all of the above requirements and are sure you are eligible for your passport renewal process, you will need to gather the following four documents that will be mailed to the Department of State:
The passport renewal application form you will need to fill out is known as the DS-82 form. It is important to mention that this form is only available in English.
There are two ways to fill out this form, both of which will require a printer.
- The first way to fill it out is by entering the necessary information on this page that will guide you through the process and at the end will allow you to download your form with all the necessary information in PDF format ready to print, sign and send.
- The second way is to print the blank DS-82 form and then fill it out by hand in black ink and block letters, sign it and send it.
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Passport you want to renew
To your request you must attach the old passport that you need to renew. In order for the Department of State to consider your passport valid for the renewal process, your document must meet the following characteristics:
- It cannot have been issued when you were 15 years old or younger.
- The date of issue cannot be more than 15 years old.
- It must have been issued with a 10-year validity period.
- It must not show physical damage other than normal wear and tear.
- The name on this document must match your current legal name; In the event that your name has changed for any reason, you must also attach documents that prove said name change.
A passport size photograph
You will also need to enclose a photograph of your face in the same envelope in which you send the rest of the documents. Passport photographs must have certain characteristics to be valid.
The main characteristics that you should take care of are:
- It must be printed in color on photographic paper.
- Measurements should be 2” x 2” (51mm x 51mm).
- It must have been taken recently (within the last six months).
- The background must be white.
- You should not wear glasses or anything that covers your face (such as a mask).
There are other more specific requirements for a photograph to be valid. If you want to know all the details, this site will help you.
What You Need to Know: If you don’t have the equipment to take and print a fully featured photo, or if you think your photo may be rejected, don’t worry!
Some application acceptance offices have the service of taking and printing photographs. They will make sure your photo meets all the required specifications.
To find these offices, go to this site (in English only) and select the “ photo on-site ” and “ photo nearby ” options.
Payment of the corresponding fee
Finally, you must attach to your application, passport and photograph a check or money order payable to the Department of State for the amount corresponding to your procedure.
These fees are explained below.
What is your cost?
In the case of renewals, the current rates for 2021 are as follows:
- for passport book: $110;
- for passport card: $30;
- for passport book and passport card: $140;
Note: If the passport renewal is urgent, you must add $60 to the cost of your process. This option is explained in detail later.
Where can you apply?
There are two types of places where you can apply to renew your US passport:
- At United States Postal Service (USPS) offices. These are the post offices where letters and packages are sent, so it is the most popular option.
- At other government offices designated by the Department of State. Some libraries, county clerks , and other local, municipal, and state offices are recognized by the Department of State as passport application acceptance facilities . To find the one closest to you, you’ll need to access this site (available in English only).
How to get an emergency passport (urgency)?
As of October 29, 2021 , the regular passport renewal service by mail and at acceptance offices takes between 8 and 11 weeks.
This period, which only includes the process, begins when the Department of State receives your request and does not include the delivery time.
If you need to renew your passport urgently, there is the option to pay $60 for the expedited service that cuts the processing time to between 5 and 7 weeks.
You can also request that your new document be shipped by priority mail, ensuring transit within 1-2 days. This last service has a cost of $17.56.
What you need to know: We recommend that you renew your passport early (at least four and ideally six months before your trip).
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Due to the current situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, urgent passports are issued by phone appointment only and these appointments are limited.
How to apply for the United States passport for the first time?
The procedure for applying for a passport for the first time is very similar to that for renewal.
The main differences are:
- The procedure must be done in person.
- You will need to use the DS-11 application form instead of the DS-82.
- Instead of the passport to be renewed, you will need to present an official identification (with a copy) and proof of US citizenship (original document and a copy).
- In addition to the cost of the passport, you must pay a $35 acceptance fee directly to the application acceptance office.
What are the passport requirements for children under 16?
Persons under the age of 16 must always submit a passport application as if it were the first time with both of their parents or legal guardians and cannot renew an expired passport.
The requirements for this process are:
- the duly completed DS-11 form;
- document proving your US citizenship;
- documents proving the paternity of the person requesting the passport on behalf of the minor;
- official identification of parents or legal guardians;
- consent of parents or legal guardians;
- a photograph (with the aforementioned characteristics);
- payment corresponding to the process.
We hope we have resolved all your doubts about the renewal process for United States passports.
We remind you that it is very important that you are aware of the validity of all your documents and that you renew them with sufficient time; especially now that many procedures have been delayed due to the pandemic.