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It only happens every 10 years, but passports do need to be renewed. And this year was my year to figure out how to renew a passport. Surprisingly, the process is completely simple and takes just a little bit of effort. So follow along as I show you how to renew a passport.
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How to Renew a Passport
When your passport is nearing expiration, the first thing on your mind is “Oh no! What a headache!!!” Then you wonder, “how to renew a passport?”
The process is very simple and most people can renew a passport by mail. As long as your passport was:
- issued in the last 15 years
- you were 16 years old or older when you received it, and
- it is in your current name (or you can legally document the name change)
Then you are able to renew your passport by mail.
1. Grab Your Passport
To start the passport renewal process, grab your existing passport, because you’re going to need some information from it.
2. Complete Form DS-82
Once you have your passport, go to the US State Department’s website for passport renewals where you will complete the Form DS-82. Here you have two options, you can fill out Form DS-82 online, then print it out, or you can print out the PDF and hand print all of your information.
My handwriting is often horrible, so I chose to fill out the Form DS-82 online, then print it out. I’d recommend that you do the same!
Pro Tip: When requesting a new passport, ask for the larger passport with 52 pages. There is no additional cost, and it will save you money in case your passport becomes full and you need to request a new one later.
Print out an extra copy in case you need it later.
3. Submit Your Most Recent Passport
When you mail in your application to renew a passport, you need to send in your current passport. They’ll return it with holes punched in it so that it is unusable.
4. Include Name Change Documents (if applicable)
If you’ve changed your name, then make sure that you include a certified copy of your legal name change. Some examples of reasons to change your name would be marriage or divorce.
5. Provide A Passport Photo
Passport photos are generally some of the most unflattering photos ever taken. They probably give DMV photos a run for their money. However, these pictures are necessary… and you don’t get to smile for them.
I took my photos at CVS and used one of their coupons to save a couple of dollars. You can also take photos at AAA or some Post Office locations. Most passport photos will run you about $10 for a set of two. You only need to submit one photo for your passport renewal, so keep the other as a spare.
Be very careful when stapling your photo to the passport application. Staple in the four corners of the photo vertically along the edges. You definitely don’t want a staple hole in the middle of your forehead!
6. Calculate The Fees To Renew A Passport
We’ll talk about this in more detail below. Just know that you need to write a personal check or purchase a money order for the fees. Make it payable to “US Department of State“.
Print the full name and date of birth of the person applying for passport renewal (ie: if you’re renewing for someone else, print their name) on the front of the check or money order.
Whatever you do, do not send cash. Common sense.
7. Mail Your Completed Passport Renewal Application
Because a passport contains sensitive personal information and could be used by thieves if they steal it, I paid extra for my passport renewal to be sent USPS Priority Mail.
Yeah, it cost a few extra dollars to send Priority Mail, but it got there faster and I was able to receive a confirmation when it was received. You have the option to send your passport renewal by regular mail, but why take the chance?
How Much Does It Cost To Renew A Passport?
The fees to renew a passport vary based on the choices that you make. I share the options and how much I paid for my passport renewal. To see all of the fees, go to the passport fee schedule here.
When you apply for a passport or when you renew, you have the option of getting a passport book ($110), a passport card ($30), or both ($140). There are no discounts for getting both, and I have yet to find a reason that I’d need to get a passport card. So, I went with the passport book for $110.
By renewing your passport, you save the $25 acceptance fee that new passport requests are required to pay. And children under 16 are only $80, which is a savings of $30. Keep in mind, though, that children passports are only valid for 5 years.
Because I couldn’t wait for the normal 6-8 weeks due to vacation plans, I paid the Expedite Fee of $60 so that my passport renewal would only take 2-3 weeks. More on this below.
If you’re in a real hurry, then you can also pay for Overnight Delivery, which adds another $15.45 to your total.
For me, my total was $170 due to the rush passport renewal. I could have saved $60 if I spaced out my international vacations a little more, but where’s the fun in that?
If you want to see how much it would cost when you’re figuring out how to renew a passport, use the passport renewal fee calculator that does the math for you.
How Long Does It Take to Renew a Passport?
You have several options when you renew a passport. The more time sensitive your request (aka the greater the rush), the more you will have to pay.
The normal process takes 6-8 weeks. While the expedited process takes only 2-3 weeks. If you need your passport renewed in less than 2 weeks, you need to appear in person at a Passport Acceptance Facility. Click here to find the one nearest you.
Because I have a flight to Ixtapa, Mexico, in late August, I didn’t want to risk the normal process taking too long. And I couldn’t submit my passport for renewal until I came back from my most recent trip to Cabo at the Diamond Resorts Cabo Azul in late June.
I submitted my package on June 30th and it arrived July 12th via USPS Priority Mail. And I received my old passport a day or two later via regular USPS delivery.
The Bald Thoughts
Getting a passport is one of the best things I’ve done in my travel life. And I certainly don’t want it to expire with trips I have planned for Ixtapa, Cabo, London, Amsterdam, and Denmark! Renewing your passport is quick and simple. Now that you know how to renew your passport, don’t let it expire. And then book a fun international trip to get that first stamp!!!