As a general rule of thumb, the United States State Department recommend that you start the passport renewal process about six months ahead of your passport expiring.
Truth be told (especially nowadays) it might be a better idea to start that process even sooner!
There are a lot of nations around the world that won’t allow you to enter their borders if your passport expires between three and six months after your original date of arrival – even if the passport itself is 100% valid and good to go.
Combine that with the potential for the State Department to get overwhelmed with passport applications and renewal paperwork (which is definitely happening right now) and you’ll want to make sure that you get your renewal in ASAP.
Below we breakdown about how long you should expect it to take for your passport to be renewed and it to be in your hands.
Let’s jump right in!
Important Things to Remember when Renewing Your Passport
As we highlighted above, it’s important that you start the passport renewal process at least six months in advance of your passport’s actual expiration date.
Some of this has to do with international travel and countries not allowing visitors in with passports that expire six months after their date of arrival. But a lot of it also has to do with the fact that the State Department is totally swamped with the passport approval process right now.
The pandemic has really slowed things down, causing the State Department to have to process almost all passport applications through the mail or online.
Physical sites (for the most part) have been closed down for almost a year – and that’s definitely put some stress on the passport renewal system.
Combine that with people looking to have their passport renewed or approved on short notice (for a variety of different reasons, some of which we going to just a moment) and you definitely don’t want your passport getting lost in the shuffle.
Definitely set time aside as early as you can to get this taken care of.
It’s not a bad idea to “pretend” that your passport expires six months early just to guarantee that you always have a fresh, valid passport ready to go when you want to travel internationally.
How Long Does It Take to Renew a Passport?
As of right now (early 2021), the US State Department anticipates it taking anywhere between 10 and 12 weeks for a routine passport renewal process to complete.
This means that 10 or 12 weeks from the time that the State Department receives your passport (which can be four or five days after you actually drop your passport and renewal application in the mail) you should have your new passport in your hands, good to go.
Some people are going to have to wait a little bit longer than that (with some folks online reporting that it took almost 16 weeks for their new passport to arrive) – and some are going to be really lucky, getting their passport in about six weeks or so.
Of course, if you’re willing to pay a bit more money you can always have your passport renewal process expedited.
The expedited process guarantees that you get your passport faster than you would have with the traditional route, with the average time being between four and six weeks before you have your new passport in hand.
The State Department cannot guarantee that it’s going to take six weeks or less for you to get your new passport with this expedited service, though. Just know that it may take a little bit longer – though it’s very rare for the expedited service to go any longer than eight weeks.
Breaking Down the Passport Renewal Process
Regardless of whether or not you choose to go with the expedited or standard passport renewal process through the State Department, it’s a good idea to understand how the process shakes out – and how to streamline and speed things up on your end, too.
Below we go through the passport renewal process from start to finish.
This information is hugely important to understand if you are going through your first passport renewal. But it’s also valuable for people that have gone through this process a couple of times before.
It’ll definitely help you be better organized and it will certainly help you assist the State Department in getting you your new passport ASAP.
Let’s jump right in!
Confirm Your Renewal Eligibility
The first thing you’re going to need to do is confirm your eligibility for a renewed passport (which shouldn’t be that difficult to do, especially if you’ve already gotten a passport in the past).
The only people with a previously issued passport that may not be able to have their original renewed are:
- Individuals that got their first passport before their 16 birthday
- Individuals that got their first passport 15 years (or more) ago
- Individuals that have lost, had their passport stolen, or have a damaged passport
- Individuals that have little documentation to back up a legal change of name
If you fall into any of those categories it means that you will not be able to renew your passport – but it doesn’t mean that you’re not going to be able to get a new passport at all.
You’ll just have to go through the standard new passport application process (filling out form DS 11 with the State Department) and basically starting from scratch.
Fill Out Your DS 82 Form
After confirming that you are in fact able to have your passport renewed you’re going to want to fill out the DS 82 form from the State Department.
This form is a little bit different than the original DS 11 (the one that we highlighted a moment ago), in that it is more simplified and more streamlined. It’s designed to speed up passport renewal application process for sure.
The cool thing about the DS 82 form is that it is a really easy way to upgrade from a standard passport book or passport card. With this approach, you can upgrade from a standard passport to a larger passport book (with 52 pages) – all of which you can do totally free of charge with your renewal.
That’s a pretty cool bonus and one that you’ll certainly want to take advantage of when you go to renew your passport. It’s worth doing even if you don’t think you’ll fill up all 52 pages by the time you have to renew again.
Send In Your Old Passport
The next thing that you need to do is make sure that you have your old passport that you can send in to the State Department alongside your renewal application.
This is hugely important if you want to speed up the renewal process.
You’ll also be happy to know that your old passport will be returned to you (upon your request) after it has been pointed out by the State Department. It makes a great keepsake of all your travels, that’s for sure!
If you do not have your old passport – if it’s been lost, stolen, or damaged beyond all recognition – then you’re going to have to go through the traditional DS 11 passport application process instead of a renewal.
If you are going to a third-party, approved site for this process just let them know that something happened to your passport and they’ll be able to move you through the new application process quickly and efficiently.
Making a Name Change?
If you have changed your legal name (for any reason whatsoever) and is now different than the name on your previous US passport it’s important that you go through the proper process for changing everything on your new one.
You’ll need to provide notarized copies of all legal name change documentation, documentation that can include (but is not limited to):
- A marriage certificate
- A divorce certificate
- Court ordered name change documentation
- Legal name change documentation
Without this kind of paper trail you’re going to have an almost impossible time getting your renewed altogether.
Double check to make sure that the information you are providing has been notarized and is on official letterheads. Anything less than that will most certainly trigger a call from the State Department, slowing down your application process big time.
Don’t Forget to Include New Passport Photos
The main difference between including passport photos for your renewal is that you only have to include one photograph (instead of two required for the original).
Just make sure that a photo is included. People get denied all the time when they forget!
The State Department will not “transfer over” passport photos from older passports upon your renewal. You’ll need to provide current, up-to-date, and State Department approved photographs to get your renewal rolling.
Remember this, too – you are not supposed to wear eyeglasses in your passport photo unless you get a signed, notarized document from your doctor and include it with your passport renewal paperwork.
A lot of people make this mistake because they are so use to wearing your glasses, only to be surprised later down the line when their application is slow down or denied for this reason.
How Much Will a Passport Renewal Cost?
Figuring out how much your passport renewal is going to cost is pretty simple and straightforward.
The standard fee schedule (as of 2021, anyway) is:
- $30 for a passport card renewal
- $110 for a passport book renewal
- $140 for a passport book and card renewal
If you want to take advantage of expedited services, use US State Department approved services for passport photography, or any other services and extras you want to make sure that you add those into your final renewal cost.
It’s important that you get a firm handle on how much your renewal is going to cost upfront, especially if you are going to be sending checks or money orders that are payable to the US Department of State.
Whatever you do, do not – DO NOT – send any cash along with your renewal. It won’t be accepted as legitimate payment for your renewal services.
Tracking Your Renewal Application
The tracking process for your passport is pretty simple and straightforward, though it isn’t always necessarily the most well maintained or up-to-date information you’re going to find online.
As a general rule, the State Department recommends that you wait at least 14 days before your application has been accepted to look for tracking information.
The odds are pretty good it’s going to take anywhere between 4 and 12 weeks for you to get your new passport, so settle in for the long haul!
Manage Your Mail While Overseas with US Global Mail
International travel is always fun and exciting, but how do you manage your domestic mail while you are zooming all over the globe?
Most people dread the idea of their mail piling up at home while they are overseas, especially if they are going to be away for an extended amount of time. Nobody wants to come home to months worth of bills and mail, that’s for sure!
Thankfully though, with the help of US Global Mail you’ll be able to keep your finger on the pulse of your domestic mail situation from anywhere on the planet.
Not only will you get immediate updates about all of the mail that hits your US Global Mail mailbox, but you’ll also get digital scans of the envelopes and the contents within.
On top of that, you can have any (or all) of that mail forwarded to any address on the globe – at 80% off of retail shipping rates, too.
It doesn’t get much better than that!
For more information about how US Global Mail can help you better manage your mailbox while out of the country, be sure to visit their website and to check out their services page.
You can also contact them directly to ask any questions you might have before you get started!