Even if you’re an avid traveler, you might not be entirely aware of when your U.S. passport expires and how to renew it.
Rest assured: The process is relatively straightforward, and most applicants can easily do it online.
Here’s everything you need to know about renewing your U.S. passport.
When should you renew your passport?
When timing your passport renewal, there are many dates to consider. I would argue the most important date to remember is six months before your passport expires. This is because many countries require travelers to have a minimum of six months of passport validity left at the time of entry.
As long as you submit your passport for renewal at least six months in advance, it should also cover your expiration and travel dates.
Additionally, remember that U.S. passports are valid for 10 years for most adults and five years for passports issued before the age of 16.
When you identify all of the dates for your specific circumstances, you should check current passport processing times, which change frequently.
Current processing times
If you do not have travel booked within the next two months, the agency advises you to renew your passport via routine service to receive it within six to eight weeks. For travel within the next two months, your best option is expedited service. For either option, you should tack on another two weeks for processing to begin and another two weeks for the passports to be returned.
If you have international travel planned in the next 14 days, you have a few options to renew your passport. Your first option falls under the urgent travel category, which is for non-emergency travel within two or three weeks. In this case, you should attempt to make an appointment at a passport agency or center, either online or in person.
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For life-or-death emergencies necessitating international travel within three days, you must provide documentation of a qualifying emergency circumstance to make an appointment. Do this online if you’ve not yet applied for a passport or via phone if you have applied.
Note that you can schedule these appointments up to two weeks prior to travel, but your appointment must fall within three business days of travel. Also, note that appointments for urgent travel are limited and cannot be guaranteed.
How should you renew your passport?
Most people are eligible to renew their passport via mail; this requires completing a Form DS-82 and providing a photo, your most recent passport and a check for the fees. Passport photos must meet the specified guidelines listed here.
All passport applications sent by mail must be transmitted via the U.S. Postal Service — no exceptions. If you use another carrier, your renewal package will be returned to you without being processed. If you’re mailing your passport renewal application from Canada, you must use Canada Post.
If you meet one of four circumstances — including if you applied for a child under age 16, lost your passport or received your most recent passport 15-plus years ago — then you must renew your passport in person at a passport acceptance facility. Some facilities allow walk-ins, while others require appointments, so double-check your desired location’s requirements.
How much does it cost?
Renewing your passport costs $130 for a passport book, $30 for a limited-use passport card and $160 for both the book and a passport card. If you plan to expedite your service, factor in an additional $60. You can also pay $18.32 for faster mailing.
Use the U.S. Department of State’s online calculator to estimate fees for your specific renewal.
Remember that your passport number will change when you renew it, so you’ll need to update your passport information for any Trusted Traveler Program membership online.
Passport processing times change throughout the year, but renewing your passport at least six months before travel should account for any processing delays.