How to renew a passport: A step-by-step guide

Traveling overseas can come with much anticipation and planning. But before packing your bags, you might want to check your passport’s expiration date. In fact, some countries may not let you enter if it expires in less than 6 months.

Keep reading to learn how to renew a U.S. passport.

Key takeaways

  • With a few exceptions, most adult passports must be renewed by mail.

  • You may be able to renew your passport in person if you need to travel urgently due to an emergency or other qualifying reason.

  • As of December 2023, processing times for U.S. passport renewal are typically 7-10 weeks.

  • For an additional $60 fee, you could expedite your passport processing to 3-5 weeks.

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Can you renew a passport online?

Passports can’t be renewed online. However, you can visit the U.S. Department of State website to find the documents you need to renew by mail. You may also be able to fill out the renewal form online to print for submission.

How to renew a passport by mail

In most cases, the only option for renewing your passport is to apply by mail. Here’s a look at the renewal-by-mail application process:

1. Determine if you’re eligible to renew by mail

The first step is to make sure you meet the eligibility requirements. Here are a few reasons why you may not be able to renew your passport by mail:

  • Your old passport book is damaged beyond normal wear and tear.

  • Your old passport was reported lost or stolen.

  • The passport you’re renewing was issued more than 15 years ago.

  • The passport was issued when you were under age 16.

  • You owe more than $2,500 in child support payments.

The full eligibility requirements for renewing a passport are listed on the U.S. Department of State website.

2. Fill out the application form

You can find the renewal application Form DS-82 online. Be sure to print the form single-sided, fill out all sections and sign and date the application.

In addition to the application form, you may need to include supporting documents. For example, if your current name is different from what’s on your old passport, you’ll need to include certified name change documents like a marriage certificate. Or if you’re applying without a Social Security Number (SSN), you may need to provide a signed statement that you’ve never been issued an SSN.

3. Attach a photo

Your application should include a color photograph taken within the last 6 months. The photo must be 2 inches by 2 inches with a white or off-white background. You can’t wear glasses in the photo. And any head coverings must be medically necessary or part of a religious requirement, in which case you’ll need to provide a signed verification statement.

Find more passport photo tips and instructions for attaching the photo to the application.

4. Pay the fee

You’ll need to include a check or money order for your passport application fee made out to the U.S. Department of State. The fee for a passport book renewal is $130. A passport card is $30, which is used for travel by land and sea to select countries.

Expedited service costs an additional $60. You can also pay an additional $19.53 fee to have your new passport book mailed to you in 1-2 days.

5. Mail your application

Once you’ve completed the application, you’ll mail it along with any supporting documents, your old passport and the application fee. Where you mail the application can vary depending on where you live and whether you’re paying for expedited or routine service. See Section E of Form DS-82 for where to send your application.

Applications for passport renewal must be sent via the U.S. Postal Service if you’re applying from within the U.S.

How to renew a passport in person

In most cases, you’ll renew your passport by mail. However, you may be able to renew it in person if you meet certain urgent travel requirements.

For example, in-person renewal may be an option if you’re traveling within 3 days due to a life-or-death emergency with an immediate family member outside the U.S. If you’re traveling internationally within 14 days, you may also be able to expedite your renewal in person.

To make an appointment, you’ll need to call your local passport agency. Appointments can be limited, and the U.S. Department of State can’t guarantee you’ll have your passport before traveling.

Passport renewal FAQ

Here are answers to some common questions about renewing a passport.

Processing times for passport renewal can depend on the season. Currently, routine passport processing takes 7-10 weeks and expedited processing takes 3-5 weeks. You can track your application status by signing up for email updates.

Some countries have restrictions on how soon a passport expires in order to enter the country. So it may be a good idea to renew your passport at least 6 months before the expiration date.

You can find a country’s passport requirements by searching for the destination on the U.S. Department of State’s travel website and finding the “Passport Validity” section.

You can renew an expired passport as long as it meets the following criteria:

  • You were at least 16 years old when your most recent passport was issued.
  • Your passport was issued within the last 15 years.
  • Your most recent passport is in your possession and isn’t damaged.
  • You have the same legal name as your most recent passport or can provide evidence of a legal name change.

If any of the above doesn’t apply to you, you can apply for a new passport in person.

Yes, your old passport will typically be sent back to you separately from your new passport after the renewal is complete. You’ll also receive back any supporting documents you sent.

Passport renewal in a nutshell

If you’re planning an international trip, you’ll need a valid passport. And some countries may require the expiration date to be at least 6 months beyond your travel date. Renewing your passport by mail currently takes between 7-10 weeks. But if you need your passport fast, you may be able to expedite your renewal.

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