For dedicated travelers, their passports are one of the most important documents in the world. For U.S. passport holders in particular, this amazing little book can grant access into several countries around the globe.
Unfortunately, passports don’t last forever. Typically, they come with a ten-year validity (five years for minors)—meaning that you’re going to have to renew them at some point.
Fortunately, the renewal process isn’t as complicated as you may think. And because you’ve already made it through the application process once, it will be easier this time around.
There are some factors to keep in mind, however. Consider the information below as you look to renew your passport. And if you need to renew your kids’ passports, you might have to follow a slightly different route.
So, when Should You Renew Your Passport?
This question may seem obvious at first. You renew it when it expires, right? Well, not necessarily. There may be times when your passport is still valid but you’ll need to renew it. Consider the following situations:
You Need a Visa
Typically speaking, many countries won’t issue a visa to an individual who has fewer than six months of validity left on their passport. For this reason, make sure that you update your passport if need be before applying for a visa.
With several of the most common tourist destinations—such as China—requiring visas, there’s never a reason to let your passport go out of date. Even getting too close to the six-month validity mark can be costly. Because the visa process can be quite expensive, make sure that you don’t waste your funds by using an outdated passport.
Keep in mind that you can only renew your passport if certain conditions are met. These include:
- You must have been 16 or older when you applied.
- You still have the same legal name (or you can show proof of a legal name change).
- Your passport wasn’t issued more than fifteen years ago.
- Your passport isn’t damaged.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at the steps you’ll need to take to renew your passport.
1. Gather Documents
As with any passport process, the first step you need to take is to gather the required documents. In order to renew your passport, you’re going to need to show that you’re still a US citizen. The good news is that this is much easier than before—as your old passport book should be sufficient.
However, keep in mind that if you’ve had any name change, you’re going to need to show legal proof of it. In order to do this, include a copy of the official name change certificate with your application.
Additionally, make sure that you include a fully-completed Form DS-82 with your application. If you’re sending it by mail, also include your passport renewal fee in the form of a check or money order.
You’ll also need to supply a new passport-style photo with your application. This will help keep your passport up-to-date so that you don’t experience any problems when going through security.
2. Mail the Documents
Once you’ve got your documents together, simply mail them to your regional passport agency.
Those needing expedited service, however, will need to call their regional agency to schedule an appointment. Typically, expedited renewals can be completed in two weeks or less, but you’re going to need to how proof that you have immediate travels approaching.
Make sure, as well, that your situation fits the requirements as outlined above. If you have a lost, stolen, or damaged passport, for instance, you’ll need to apply for a new passport instead. And if you are looking for a new passport for a minor, you might need a few more steps. You will need a passport for your little one if you are traveling internationally with them or you want them to fly as unaccompanied minors.
By following the above instructions, you can get your renewed passport without any hang-ups.