What to Know About Purchasing and Renewing Your Passport

passport renewal

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had some kind of a travel issue that relates to your passport or if you know someone who has. Everyone? We thought so!

When it comes to passports, most of us have a story to tell about that time we didn’t realize it was expired, our friend who lost theirs just before a trip, or an uncle who lost his on an international adventure. When these kinds of situations arise, the thing that causes people to panic is a lack of information. We put together some answers to frequently asked questions to help prevent passport panic in the future:

How often does my US passport expire?

Any US passport issued to an individual who is 16 years old or older will expire 10 years to the day from the day it was issued. You’ll need to start thinking about applying for passport renewal before the expiration date if you plan to continue travel. US passports for children under the age of 16 are only valid for 5 years.

How do I renew my current US passport?

If you already have a passport but need a new one because your expiration date is coming up, it has already passed, or you’ve changed your name, you can complete the passport renewal process via mail. Here are the requirements for renewing your present US passport:

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The passport itself has to be undamaged

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It has to have been issued less than 15 years ago

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It has to have your present name on it

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The person whose passport you’re renewing is under the age of 16

If you don’t meet these requirements, you’ll need to get a new passport–we’ll get to that in a minute!

If you’ve changed your name between when your current passport was issued and now, you just have to submit proof of the name change–like a marriage certificate or a court order–along with the other standard documents, which include:

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Your current passport

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Form DS-82: US Passport Renewal Application

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A color passport photo

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Check or money order to pay the fee — it’s $110 for adults

How do I get a new passport?

So, what are the circumstances under which you’ll need to get a new passport?If you need to apply for a new passport, mailing in your application isn’t an option–you’ll need to go to the nearest passport acceptance facility in person. There are a number of different types of facilities that offer new passport services, including some post offices and libraries–just do a little research or call around to confirm with your local spots. Another option is to check out the list of official passport agencies here.

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This is your first time getting a passport

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Your old passport is damaged or was lost

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Your current passport is over 15 years old

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Your name has changed but you can’t provide proof

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You’re getting a passport for a child under the age of 16

If any of these apply to you, you’ll need to bring the following documentation to the passport approval facility of your choosing:

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Form DS-11: US Passport Application

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Proof of US Citizenship — birth certificate or naturalization certification, for example

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A government-issued photo ID — your driver’s license, non-license ID or military ID

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Color passport photo

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Check or money order to pay the fee — it’ll be $110 for adults and $80 for children under 16 to apply, plus an additional fee that you’ll be charged if you’re approved, which we’ll get to a bit later

If you’re getting a passport for someone under the age of 16, you’ll also need proof of your relationship to the child such as a birth certificate or court documents. If there are two parents on the document, both will need to be present for the in-person application or a consent form must be signed by the parent who isn’t able to be there.

How long does it take to renew a passport or get a new one?

While there is no exact amount of time that you’re guaranteed to get your new or renewed passport, you can know the time-frame depending on which kind of service you’re being charged for. Here’s what you’re looking at in terms of range from when your passport application is received via mail or you apply in person:

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Regular Service: 4-6 weeks

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Expedited Service: 2-3 weeks

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Expedited Service Filed at an Agency In-Person: Around 8 business days

How do I get a new/ renewed passport expedited?

If you don’t have time for the routine passport service, there are certain circumstances under which you can get your application process expedited:

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Traveling within 2 weeks: If you realize that you don’t have your passport two weeks before your departure date or you book travel last-minute and need a passport quickly, this service is for you. Just bring proof of travel with you when you go to apply, along with the other documents listed above.

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Traveling within 24-48 hours because of a life or death emergency: If you need to leave the country for a serious emergency such as an illness or death, you can bring proof of the situation to your appointment to have your passport application processed even more quickly. A list of what is considered to be life or death emergencies is here.

If you need to get your passport at a quicker pace, you MUST have an appointment at the nearest passport agency. You can’t get expedited service at the post office or library–it has to be at an official passport agency. Find your nearest agency and book an appointment here as soon as you know you’ll need your passport expedited.

On top of the regular fees associated with getting a new or renewed passport, which we’ll cover in a minute, having your passport expedited will cost an additional $60 and any delivery costs to send it to you.

How much does a passport cost?

First, you’ll have to pay the application fees above. This fee is non-refundable under any circumstances, even if you don’t end up actually getting a passport. Here they are as a quick reminder:

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Passport Renewal: $110 for adults

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New Passport: $110 for adults, $80 for children under 16

Then, if your application is approved, you’ll have to pay an execution fee:

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Passport Renewal: $0! Your passport was already executed, so the application fee is all you’ll be charged for if you opt for routine service

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New Passport: $35

As we mentioned before, if you need expedited passport services, you’ll pay an additional $60 fee plus shipping of your passport on top of the fees outlined above.

If you’re looking for more information about anything passport related, you can always call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778. They’re open 24/7!

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