A passport is the most recognizable and widely-accepted document around the world. This alone is a sufficient reason to keep it up-to-date. The US State Department (the governing body that issues US passports) recommends renewing your travel document at least 6 (six) months before its expiration date. By doing so, US passport holders can continue their explorations without interruption.
If you are an American citizen residing within the country and want to renew your passport, look no further. In this comprehensive post, applicants will get all the information they need about the renewal process, its requirements, possible ways to renew their US passport, and valuable tips and notes. Follow this guide to get your passport renewed and start planning your next trip abroad!
US passport renewal—application types
The US Department of State allows American citizens to renew their passports in two ways: by post or in person. However, recent progress has been made in online renewals, which we will mention later in this post.
Regardless of whether applicants renew their US passport by mail or in person, they must prepare the required documents and passport photos, and calculate the appropriate passport fees for their specific situation. While the steps are similar in both cases, the requirements for US passport renewals differ depending on the individual. The following regulations pertain to adult passport holders (above 18) only.
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Renew US passport by mail
The first option to renew a US passport is by mail. US citizens can conveniently fill out form DS-82 at home, collect all their necessary documents and send them to their nearest Passport Center. However, applicants must satisfy the following 5 (five) criteria in order to be eligible for US passport renewals by mail:
- Applicants are in possession of their current passports.
- The passport is undamaged, apart from the usual wear-and-tear.
- The passport’s holder was at least 16 (sixteen) when the passport was issued.
- The US passport was issued within the last 15 (fifteen) years.
- The applicant holds their passport in their current name, or they have valid proof of name change.
If all of the above conditions are met, US citizens have an open door to passport renewals by mail. Now, how should they do it? The US State Department has prepared specific steps that need to be taken to renew your US passport successfully. There are 7 (seven) key steps to check when renewing a US passport by mail.
#1 Form DS-82
US citizens who wish to renew their passports by mail must use Form DS-82. The form is available on the official government website. Applicants can fill out the form by hand or use the online form filler provided by the US State Department.
Either way, the form must be printed single-sided and filled in black ink only. Applicants do not have to print the first 4 (four) pages of instructions. There is no official regulation as to the use of letters. However, we strongly recommend completing the application form in capital letters to make it more readable. This form can renew both US passport books and passport cards. Moreover, applicants can enlarge their standard passport to a 52-page passport book without any additional charge.
Important note: In Form DS-82, applicants must provide their Social Security Number. If they have not been issued one, the application must be supported by a signed and dated statement including the following note: “I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America that the following is true and correct: I have never been issued a Social Security Number by the Social Security Administration.” (US Department of State website)
#2 Old passport
As stated earlier, US citizens wishing to renew their passports must be in possession of their current passports. It is essential because sending the old passport along with the application is an absolute must. The passport cannot be damaged in any significant way. Upon receiving a new passport, applicants will get their old US passports back, along with other documents, in a separate package.
#3 Name change documents (if applicable)
Has your name changed within the last 10 (ten) years since your current passport was issued? To renew a US passport by mail, applicants must provide a certified copy of their legal name change document. The document will be returned to the sender by mail once the new passport has been issued. Examples of legal name change documents include:
- marriage certificate
- divorce decree
- legal name change document ordered by a court.
#4 Passport photo
Passport photos are one of the crucial elements of any official document application. Applicants must provide 1 (one) color photograph of their current appearance, meeting the requirements of a US passport photo. The picture must be stapled to the application—use 4 (four) staples vertically in the photo’s corners. Do not bend it!
#5 Passport renewal fees
US passport renewal fees depend on the service applicants choose. Here are the costs of routine service for renewing:
- a US passport book: $130
- a US passport card: $30
- passport book and passport card together: $160.
The fees must be paid by check or money order addressed to the US Department of State. Applicants need to state their full name and date of birth on the front of their check. When renewing US passports by mail, online payments and cash are not accepted.
Having collected all the necessary documents—a current US passport, a passport photo, a money order, and supporting documents (if applicable)—it is time to send everything together to the appropriate passport office. When mailing their applications, US citizens must use the United States Postal Service (USPS); using the services of other delivery companies, like FedEx, will result in your application being returned to sender.
The mailing address is provided on form DS-82; depending on the place of residence, applicants can send their US passport renewal package to one of the following locations:
- California, Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, Texas: National Passport Processing Center, Post Office Box 640155, Irving, TX 75064-0155
- other states: National Passport Processing Center, Post Office Box 90155, Philadelphia, PA 19190-0155
It is possible to expedite the delivery* either way by using these shipment options:
- delivery to the Passport Center: USPS’ Priority Mail Express (the costs vary depending on the state);
- return delivery: include the $18.32 fee on your check or money order for 1-2 day delivery of your new US passport.
*faster delivery is available only for US passport book renewals or passport books and cards. The National Passport Processing Center does not offer 1-2 day delivery for passport cards only.
Having sent the renewal application, US citizens can track it through the US Passport Application Status System—an online system that allows applicants to check the status of their passports (available on the US State Department website). You can also make the US passport renewal application tracking more convenient by agreeing to receive automatic email updates.
Note: It is natural that the status will appear as “not available” during the first 2 (two) weeks after sending the application. The Passport Center needs time to process and scan the data and documents and accept the payments. After that, you can expect your application status to change to “in process.”
Renew US passport in person
US citizens must renew their passports in person if they didn’t answer “yes” to any of the statements required for mail renewal. Thus, renewing one’s passport at a passport acceptance facility is the only option if:
- The applicant is 16 (sixteen) or younger.
- The applicant was under 16 (sixteen) when the passport was issued.
- The passport was issued more than 15 (fifteen) years ago.
In the case of in-person US passport renewals, there is a bit more paperwork that applicants have to prepare in comparison to renewing their passports by mail. Let’s look at the 10 (ten) steps for renewing a US passport in person.
#1 Form DS-11
US citizens who renew their passports in person must use form DS-11 . The rules for completing said form are identical to passport renewals by mail. Applicants must:
- Print the application using the single-sided format.
- Use black ink to fill out the application.
- Write in capital letters (strongly recommended).
Form DS-11 can be used to renew both passport books and passport cards. Applicants can also apply for a larger passport book (52 pages) at no additional cost. Before visiting the passport facility, do not sign the application—it first needs to be approved by the acceptance agent.
#2 Evidence of US citizenship
One of the required documents applicants must bring for their passport renewal is proof of their US citizenship. It can be provided in the original version or a certified (physical) copy. Applicants must provide one of the following:
- fully-valid, undamaged US passport (can be expired)
- full birth certificate (including the parents’ full names)
- Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certificate of Birth
- Certificate of Naturalization
- Certificate of Citizenship.
#3 Photocopy of the US citizenship evidence
Along with the original version or a certified copy of their US citizenship evidence, applicants must also provide a photocopy. The US citizenship evidence photocopy must meet the following requirements:
- standard white paper (8.5 x 11 inches)
- black and white copy
#4 Present ID
While visiting the facility, applicants must prove their identity to the passport agent with a valid, government-issued photo Identification Document (ID). The document must be in a physical format—digital IDs are not accepted. US citizens can provide one of the following:
- valid or expired US passport card or book
- (enhanced) driver’s license
- Certificate of Naturalization
- Certificate of Citizenship
- Government employee ID
- US military ID
- current valid foreign passport
- Green Card
- Trusted Traveler ID.
Note: Your renewed passport will have a different number than the old one. Remember to update it on your DHS Trusted Traveler account.
#5 Photocopy of the ID
As with the US citizenship document, applicants must also provide a photocopy of their chosen ID. The photocopy requirements are the same as stated earlier.
#6 Special circumstances (if applicable)
US citizens visiting the passport acceptance facility must inform the passport agent about any circumstances or conditions that may influence their passport renewal process. Such circumstances include:
- age (different rules apply for the applicants 16 [sixteen] or under)
- lost, stolen, or significantly damaged passport
- gender marker change
#7 Passport photo
Applicants for US passport renewal must attach 1 (one) passport photo that meets all the requirements set out by the US State Department. In the case of renewing passports in person, the photo cannot be stapled to the application form.
The in-person passport application fees are the same as renewal fees done by mail:
- $130 for a US passport book
- $30 for a US passport card
- $160 for both the passport book and card.
However, when renewing the passport in person, an additional $35 acceptance fee is added.
Applicants can pay this fee using a credit card or check. Cash is accepted only if the exact amount is provided.
#9 Submitting the application
Having collected all the documents, applicants must visit a passport acceptance facility to submit their application. US citizens can find the nearest facility through the online search page provided by the US Department of State.
Note: The appointment schedules depend on the facility. Applicants are recommended to contact the chosen facility before visiting in person.
Submitting the passport application form in person also allows applicants to track the progress of their new passports. Tracking is available in the same way as with renewals done by mail—through the US Passport Application Status System.
Renew US passport online
Thanks to a government pilot program, US citizens will soon have the possibility to renew their passports online! Get more information on the program details and how to renew US passports online here.
Passport Photo Online for your renewal passport photo
Next to the completed renewal form and supporting documents, a passport photo is the most crucial element of the renewal application. The picture should reflect the passport holder’s current appearance and meet all the requirements mandated by the US Department of State.
If skimming through the steps of the renewal process was already a lot, why not make the passport photo-taking portion of your renewal as painless as possible? We present you with Passport Photo Online—a photo transformation tool that crops, resizes, and changes the background so that your passport image is 100% compliant with all official regulations.
Not only will you have your pictures taken in just 3 (three) seconds, but they will also be reviewed and fine-tuned by our experts. Working around the clock, we want to provide you with the most satisfying customer experience and a final result that gets accepted by the National Passport Center. Trust our application to get you the perfect passport photo.
How to renew US passport: FAQ
The following section will be devoted exclusively to the most frequently asked questions about US adult passport renewals.
What is the US passport renewal fee?
The fees are the same for renewing US passports by mail or in person: $130 for a passport book, $30 for a passport card, and $160 for both a passport book and a passport card. When renewing your passport in person, an additional $35 acceptance fee is charged.
What is the US passport renewal form?
To renew your passport by mail, choose renewal form DS-82. For passport renewal in person, applicants must select the DS-11 form.
How much does it cost to renew a US passport?
The cost of renewing a US passport book is $130 (plus a $35 acceptance fee if renewing in person). However, if the applicant wishes to renew their passport card, the price is $30. It is also possible to renew your US passport book and card together for $160.
Can I renew my US passport online?
Yes, you can. Currently, US citizens can renew their passports online thanks to a pilot program launched by the US Department of State. The instructions for online passport renewals are available on the US government’s website.
When to renew a US passport?
Technically, you can renew your US passport anytime. However, if no data on your passport has been changed (e.g., the name), US citizens are advised to renew their passport 9 (nine) months before the expiry date. This recommendation is due to the 6-month validity rule that certain countries require for travel.
What do I need to renew my US passport?
Common things that applicants must have are:
– a completed application form (DS-82 by mail and DS-11 in person)
– a passport photo
– sufficient funds for the payment of passport fees.
When renewing passports in person, applicants must also provide proof of US citizenship (e.g., a birth certificate) and any form of ID (e.g., a driver’s license) along with photocopies of both documents.
How soon can I renew my US passport?
US passports can be renewed as early as their holders wish to do so. However, if no exceptional circumstances exist, US citizens should renew their passports at least 6 (six) months before the expiration date.
How long does it take to get US passport renewal?
The standard processing time for US passport renewals is 8 (eight) to 11 (eleven) weeks. This time can be expedited to 4 (four) to 6 (six) weeks for an additional cost of $60.
Renewing US passport—closing thoughts
American citizens can renew their passports at the Post Office, in person, and even online, thanks to the pilot program conducted by the US Department of State. For all 3 (three) methods of US adult passport renewal, applicants must provide a completed application form (DS-82 or DS-11), their current passport photo, and any required supporting documents. It is best to renew your US passport at least 6 (six) months before it expires.
And for the perfect passport photo, be it printed or digital, try Passport Photo Online. Within seconds, you can create a picture that meets all requirements set out by the State Department—our expert team will review it just to double-check. Get the app on your mobile phone and try it for yourself. 100% satisfaction guaranteed or get 200% of your money back!
Roxana is a writer with 3+ years of experience. As a Master in psycholinguistics, she blends her passion for language and communication with insights from diverse cultures, making her content resonate with a broad audience.