How Long Does It Take To Renew A U.S.Passport by Mail?

My passport expired earlier this year and I waited until May to start the renewal process. Don’t ask me why, I have no idea why I procrastinated for so long. I knew I had a trip coming up in August, and wasn’t quite sure on how long it would take to get the ball rolling. I printed out the DS-82 form from USA.gov, got a new photo taken, and stood in line at the post office.

My application was mailed on May 13th and I’m still waiting for my brand new booklet to arrive. It’s been nearly 6 weeks and I’m searching the mail and my inbox for any updates or deliveries every day.

The government website indicates that this process can take 6 to 8 weeks to complete. I never received a gold star for patience, so I’m simply waiting (and dying) for my brand new booklet.

When Should I Start the Renewal Process?

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I clearly started my renewal process late. I meant to get it going earlier than May, but – honestly – I just kept putting it off. Learn from my mistakes and make sure you give yourself plenty of time.

Travelers should renew passports approximately nine months before it expires. Be sure you’re checking the expiration date on your documents. Some countries require passports to remain valid for up to 6 months after travel. Also,it’s very important since some airlines won’t allow you to board if you don’t meet this requirement.

What’s Needed to Renew a U.S. Passport?

To renew your passport, your original one would need to be have been issued less than 15 years ago,  you would need to have been 16 or older when you received your first passport, and it needs to be in your current legal name.

You’ll also need the following for the renewal form:

  • Current passport.
  • Color passport size photo.
  • Proof of legal name.
  • If your name has changed, you’ll need to add a certified copy of your marriage certificate or a court order of your name change.
  • Fee payment (check or money order)

*If renewing by mail – you’ll use the DS-82 form. This form can be printed out from the website, and filled out by hand. You can also fill out the form online and have it printed out to be mailed.

How Much Does it Cost To Renew?

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A passport book, with a standard renewal process and inside of the US, is $110. A passport card, under the same elements, is $30. A book and a card combo is $140. To calculate the fee for any other circumstance, use this Passport Fee Calculator.

Passport Acceptance Locations:

Once you’ve filled out the form, taken the photo, and have the payment ready, it’s time to send it all in! The U.S. government will only accept applications from very specific facilities. These facilities are usually the United State Postal Office, County Clerk offices, and libraries.

To find a facility near you, click HERE

Can I Get it Expedited?

selective focus photography of a mailbox

Absolutely! I didn’t, I’m not in that much of a rush that I would want to pay extra for the process to move faster, but it’s an option. Quickly renewing your passport would be great for travelers who need to travel in the next 24 to 48 hours due to an emergency, illness, or death in the family.

If you need a super quick passport for a cruise or trip coming up in the next 2 to 3 weeks, you can expedite the shipping with the mail carrier and pay extra for a faster processing. For more info, here’s a break down of this faster option.

How Can I Check My Application Status?

I’ve been doing this frequently. I’m not a very patient person and I really want my passport now. The U.S. Passport Application Status site will give you a tiny bit of insight as to what’s going on during the 6 to 8 weeks.

Once you plug in the required information (last name, birth date, and last 4 of your social security number) you’ll be sent to a page with the most basic information about your application.

I’m not a huge fan of this status update page. I actually hate it. I feel like there’s a lot to be desired in the info conveyed. For weeks it tells me it’s in the “processing stage”. I understand that it will take time, but this site could be way more user friendly and informative. It would be great to know how far I am in the processing stage. A meter or percentage would be great.

Besides letting up know it’s still processing, it gives your application locator number and tips on how to get your renewed documents faster, if necessary. Other than that, and contact info, there’s no other information.

What Did I Learn?

person putting a passport on bag

Next time I have to renew my passport, I won’t wait so long. I’ll be sure to jump on this process as early as I can. I would suggest you do the same.

If you have any of your own tips on how to make renewing passports as painless as possible, feel free to let me know. I’d also love to hear of your own experiences with this process!

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