Passport Renewal Guide: 6 Facts You Should Know to Speed Things Up

Passport Renewal Guide: 6 Facts You Should Know to Speed Things Up

When was the last time you checked your passport expiration date? It is essential that you do this soon rather than wait until your next planned trip. You have to renew it if it is expired to avoid complications during your future travels. The renewal procedure will require you to know the essential actions of what you need to do. Below are some of the facts about the process that you need to brush up on.

1.  Mail Renewal:  The best option but isn’t always available
Renewing your passport via mail is the easiest option because you only need to go to the post office. Just download and print the renewal form from the U.S Department of State website, fill in the details that include your full name and date of birth, attach your most recent photo, and then mail it along with the expired passport. Also, you have to include a money order.

Make the application in person, and this is under several circumstances such as if it has been 15 years since you last renewed your passport, if you were under 16 years of age when you received your last passport, or if the current one is damaged. Check with the post office to know if you are expected to make an appointment for the service. Some of the ‘passport acceptance facilities’ that you can consider include libraries, the post office, and other designated offices. Check whether you need to book appointments with any of the facilities.

2.  Be Wary Of Passport Processing Services
You will come across agencies parroting to offer fast passport renewal or processing services, and nearly all of them claim to be authorized to provide such services. However, services not associated with the government should go through a process similar to that of the DS-82 form which should be done in person and by mail; and the services charge a fee.

Working with another party will only mean that you are paying someone to handle the same process that you will handle. Save you money by finding time to follow the requirements of the process yourself.

3.  3. Expedited Passports:  They Can Be Costly, But Possible
Most frequent travelers hate turning in their passports even when expired because of the many last-minute travels. In some countries, the validity of a passport is based on if it has a validity period of at least six months or has round four blank visa pages. For an adult’s passport, the standard turnaround of the renewal process when done by mail is around 4 - 6 weeks. To expedite the mail process, you will have to part with $99 and the extra costs of the express mailing so that you can get the new passport in under three weeks.

For an extra fee of $199, you can expedite the process of passport renewal even further, shortening the turnaround window to around seven business days though you also must indicate the urgency of the passport (e.g., if you are traveling within two weeks). It’s possible to pay $299 and $499 for 4-5 and 1-2 day turnaround times respectively too.

4.  Same-Day Renewals & Valid Emergency Renewals Can Be Handled
Last-minute situations can be unavoidable, and you still can manage to get the passport renewed on the same day. You will have to part with money and book an appointment at a passport processing center to speed things along. Expect to wait a while at the agency but you will be attended to and your passport process within time. The Department of State makes reservations for valid travel emergencies such as a ‘life and death’ situation. The traveler is allowed to call the National Passport Information Center (1-877-487-2778 during business hours) or (202-647-4000 after business hours). The center is also available during the weekends and holidays.

5.  Take A Proper Photo
The standard dimensions of a passport photo are 2x2. It should have a clear image of your facial features. The head should take up around 65% of the space; for the top to the chin and left to right. You can use the Departments of State’s cropper tool to scale the photo or have this done by professionals. You are not permitted to have hats or scarves on for the photo with exemptions given for religious reasons, and only prescription glasses are allowed. You will be asked to send another photo if what you submitted does not meet all the stipulated requirements.

6.  No More Extra Pages As Of December 2015
A passport has around 28 blank pages for visas and stamps. Formally, frequent international travelers would request for their passport to have 52 pages, at no extra fee or have a 76-page passport for an extra charge. However, the standard number of pages in passports was set at 52 as of 31 December 2015 which eliminated the option of the extra pages.

The State passed a law that required American citizens to present their passports when traveling to Bermuda, Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean; this was back in 2007, and this saw around 18 million passports issued out.

These tips will help ensure your passport is renewed without issue, so when you need it you have it.