If your passport is expiring soon, or if you don’t have enough blank pages available in your passport, you need to get it renewed. You need a non-expired passport with at least 2 blank pages when getting a visa. The passport must be valid for at least 6 months past the end date of your visa.
Maintaining a valid U.S. passport is crucial when travelling internationally, and it is especially important if you are working towards residency. This document will be your valid ID while abroad, and it will also function as a necessary document for future paperwork. I will walk you through the step by step process in renewing your passport domestically and while abroad.
When you receive your new passport, it will have a different passport number on it. America is one of the only countries to change passport numbers when the passport book is renewed. The number is unique to the passport book, not the individual. If you are someone who has used your passport number for various processes or programs, it would be a great idea to make a notarized copy* of the entirety of your passport before renewing. You may not keep your old passport book when renewing.
*A notarized copy is a copy of your document that is stamped and signed by a notary to authenticate that it is a true, unaltered copy of the original document.
How to make a notarized copy – This link shows how to get a notarized copy for the purpose of a student visa application, but the process is the same for making a notarized copy of your passport.
To have a U.S. passport, you need to be a U.S. citizen by birth or naturalization or be a qualifying U.S. national.
You can renew your current or expired U.S. passport unless your passport was:
- Issued before your 16th birthday
- Issued 15 or more years ago
- Damaged, lost, or stolen
- Issued in your previous name and you do not have a legal document like a marriage license to prove your legal name change
If any of these are true, you cannot renew your passport. Instead, you must apply for a new passport in person using form DS-11.
Completed renewal application form (DS-82), passport photo, payment, your most recent passport, and if your name has changed, a certified copy of your marriage certificate or a court order of your name change.
These items will be explained in the following sections.
How to Apply
There are 3 ways to apply for a passport renewal: online*, by mail, and in person.
*Online applications were a temporary pilot program during COVID. Once they reopen the program, I will add a guide.
That leaves us with applying by mail and in person.
First, you need to find out if you are eligible for passport renewal by mail. If you answer ‘yes’ to the following 5 statements, you are eligible for mail in passport renewal. If not, you must apply in person.
Regardless if you’re eligible for mail in application or not, you need to submit a filled out DS-82 form.
You can complete the form by hand or with the online wizard. I highly recommend using the online wizard. Simply follow the link, click submit, and enter your personal information in the webpage.
Passport Renewal Online Wizard
This online wizard is identical to the passport application wizard, but it automatically fills out the renewal form instead of the application form if your information suggests you are eligible for renewal.
This is not an online passport renewal. This is a way to complete the DS-82 Form to print out later. Enter your information carefully into the fields.
Page 1: Personal information fields.
Page 2: Contact information.
Page 3: Travel plans (It’s completely optional. You can leave it blank).
Page 4: Emergency contact (It’s completely optional).
Page 5: Your most recent passport.
In this page you select which passport items you have been issued in the past. Correctly filling out this section while meeting the eligibility requirements will qualify you for a passport renewal instead of a new passport application.
After you click next, you will be brought to another page that further asks questions regarding your eligibility for renewal. This page only appears if the previous questions answered also indicate that you are eligible for renewal.
Page 6: Applicant’s parent & spouse information.
Page 7: List of other names you have used (It’s completely optional).
Page 8: Application review page. Check that all the information is correct.
Page 9: Passport products & fees. Select your passport options.
In page 9 you choose what passport options your prefer. First, you can select if you want a passport book, a passport card, or both. The passport book is necessary for travelling internationally, so select this option at least. A passport card is useful for someone who travels frequently between neighboring countries by land or sea, but a passport book works just as well. You also have the option of selecting a large book for your passport for no extra charge.
Travelling and getting foreign visas can take up a lot of pages. Once you run out of pages, you have to get a passport renewal regardless of your expiration date. Plan ahead and save yourself the hassle by selecting “Large Book”.
Further down in the page, you can find the processing methods. If you’re in a rush and need the passport soon, select “Expedited Service”, but for 99% of us, “Routine Service” works.
Typically, it takes 8-11 weeks to process the passport after sending your application if you select “Routine Service”. With “Expedited Service” it will take anywhere between 5-7 weeks to process.
Finally, at the end of the page you can select options for the delivery method. Standard delivery works just fine. There is no need to pay extra for 1-2 day delivery.
You only need to write 1 check payable to the “Department of State” for $130.00 if you select the passport book.
In the following page, you are given 3 steps.
Step 1 describes how to submit your application:
It provides a list of addresses. Read carefully and choose the correct corresponding address to mail your passport to. I will also provide the addresses below.
Send your passport renewal application to the following if you live in CA, FL, IL, MN, NY, or TX:
Post Office Box 640155
Irving, TX 75064-0155
Send your passport renewal application to the following if you live in any other state:
Post Office Box 90155
Philadelphia, PA 19190-0155
Send your passport renewal application to the following if you live in Canada:
Post Office Box 90155
Philadelphia, PA 19190-0155
For all other countries check your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate’s website for instructions on how to submit your application.
Step 2 gives you information about what you need to submit alongside the DS-82 Form:
A Recent Color Photograph – You need a professional 2″x2″ passport photo. Use caution when attaching it to the DS-82 form. Use 4 staples vertically in the corners as close to the edge as possible. Do not bend the photo.
You can get this done at various pharmacies, retail stores, and select shipping centers: CVS, Walgreens, Target, Wal-Mart, USPS offices, and FedEx. Do not try to take your own passport photo. There are many requirements, and having it done professionally will save you from having issues later on.
Your Most Recent Passport – Make sure the data is correct and that it isn’t damaged beyond normal wear and tear.
Correct Passport Fees – Fill out and send a check along with your passport renewal application. Make the check out to the U.S. Department of State. (pricing link)
Step 3 gives you printing instructions and requests that you print the DS-82 form:
In the bottom left corner, you can print the PDF DS-82 Form. Check to make sure that all of the information on the form is accurate. It should include the answers from the online wizard.
- Print on SINGLE-SIDED PAPER. We cannot accept double-sided forms.
- Compare your printed form to what appears on your screen.
- Make sure all data blocks and the barcode appear clearly and in the same format.
- If there are any distortions, smudges, missing blocks or data, or fading, it may be due to variations in printer types, printer drivers, or low-ink levels.
- If you cannot correct these problems after checking your printer, do not submit the form.
- Instead, download a blank form from our Passport Forms page and complete it by hand in black ink.
Whether you fill it out online or by hand, it is important that you sign and date the form before sending it. Your application is not valid unless it is signed and dated.
Make sure you have the following documents for your appointment:
- A completed (signed and dated) DS-82 Form.
- One recent (professionally done) passport photo.
- Your most recent passport.
- A check made out to the U.S. Department of State.
Finally – Mail all of your documents to your respective designated address. I highly recommend using an envelope with a tracking number.
Typically, it takes 8-11 weeks to process the passport after sending your application. You will receive the passport in the mail, so keep an eye out for it. In the meantime you can check your application status online at passportstatus.state.gov. You might not receive a status for up to 4 weeks after sending your application.
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