How Early Can You Renew Your Passport as per the U.S. Department of State

Hand holding a passport, young woman expressing interest, blog post title in the middle.

There could easily be as many reasons to renew your passport early as there are people. A pimple that you recently removed but still remains on your passport photo, a hairstyle that gives you shivers of embarrassment, but used to be a fashion trend back when you applied for the passport or a coffee spill on your passport’s front page. 

With so many reasons around, the real question is how early can you renew your passport? Can you apply for a new document whenever you desire, or do you need to meet specific conditions?

How early can you renew your U.S. passport before it expires?

The general rule of thumb is that you should renew your passport approximately 9 (nine) months before its expiration date. But as you can probably notice yourself, “approximately 9 (nine) months” is not quite a specific term. 

The U.S. Department of State does not put strict limits on when you are allowed to submit your passport renewal application, nor requires you to justify it. Instead, the officials indicate a recommended period before expiration to ensure a smooth transition between your old and new passports. 

As the U.S. Department of State rightly points out, various countries have introduced a 6 (six) months validity rule. It means that you can enter countries with such limitations only when your passport has at least 6 (six) months left until the expiration date – hence, the recommended 9 (nine) months period. Other than that, there are no limits.

Your passport book or passport card does not have to be expired to be eligible for renewal.

Although officials do not recommend doing it before it is necessary, you can renew your passport at any moment in time. It can be two weeks after you have received your passport, 5 (five) years later, 9 (nine) months before expiration, or even past its expiration date (there are some limits, learn more here). 

Regulations concerning passport renewals apply similarly to the passport book and passport card.

Renew your passport ealy: circumstances

The thing about passport renewal is that it is up to you when you decide to do so. Of course, there is a set of specific circumstances when you have to renew your traveling document, but apart from those, you are welcome to file for a renewal whenever you wish. 

Below you can find some of the circumstances for early passport renewal.

Name change

Although you are not required to apply for a new passport when you change your name, it is a recommendation from the U.S. Department of State that you do so. Learn more here.

Change in physical appearance 

Minor changes, such as a different hairstyle, growing a beard or getting new glasses, do not call for renewal. Major changes, such as cosmetic surgeries, facial tatoos or sex-change procedures, do require a new passport

Long-term international travel plans 

Any international travel requires a valid passport, not only to enter the country, but also to legally be there. Therefore, if you wish to travel the world for the years to come, you need to make sure your passport is valid throughout the whole journey. 

Work abroad

Working abroad is only possible with a valid passport, unless you have a residence permit (in the U.S. it is a Green Card). If you plan to carry on with your business from abroad, you may consider renewing your passport early, to make sure it remains valid. 

These are just a few of the common reasons for early passport renewal. For as long as you are eligible for a passport renewal (find more about that here), you can apply for a new passport for whatever reason you find suitable – a long trip abroad, a name change, or even a hairstyle you no longer like. 


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How early can I renew my passport: FAQ

How early can you renew your U.S. passport before it expires?

There is no minimum time to renew your passport before it expires. Although the U.S. Department of States recommends renewing your passport approximately 9 (nine) months before the expiration date, you are allowed to do it at any point in time.

How far in advance can I renew my passport?

You can renew your U.S. passport at any moment through its validity. There are no specific time limitations, however, the U.S.Department of State recommends renewing your passport one year before it expires.

Can I renew my U.S. passport 2 years before it expires?

Yes, you can renew your U.S. passport 2 (two) years before it expires. There are no laws regulating the minimum passport validity before it is eligible for renewal. You can renew your passport at any time.

Can you renew your passport 6 months before it expires?

Yes, you can renew your U.S. passport 6 (six) months before it expires. What is more, it is recommended to do that, as some countries only allow travelers who have over 6 (six) months left until their passport expires. Learn more here. If your passport has less than 6 (six) months until the expiration date, you will be denied access to those countries.

Can I renew my passport 3 years before it expires?

Yes, you can renew your passport 3 (three) years before it expires. You can renew your traveling document anytime you wish, as there are no restrictions towards the time needed for passport renewal. Learn more about passport renewal here.

How early can you renew your U.S. passport – closing thoughts

The good news here is that you can renew your U.S. passport anytime you want. What is more, there is no need to justify the reason behind your renewal. Nevertheless, the recommendations given by the U.S. Department of State are that you should renew your passport only when it’s close to the expiration date, or when you meet the obligatory-for-renewal circumstances. 

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