How to Renew Your (Expired) Passport? A Complete, Step-by-Step Guide

Here's exactly how to renew your expired passport. This complete guide tells you how, when, and where to renew your precious travel document.


Travelling of any kind usually requires a fair bit of planning. Whether it’s getting your money exchanged or finding out what you can bring on a plane, there’s lots to think about. Perhaps most important is asking yourself, ‘Do I need to renew my expired passport?’

An expired passport is definitely going to throw a spanner in the works and cause you unnecessary panic. And you don’t need that stress when you have screaming kids who won’t pack their suitcases.

If you want to take on some international travel, you will need a valid passport. So, check the expiration date!

When your passport DOES expire you will need to go through the renewal process and submit a passport renewal application.

Alternatively, perhaps you need to renew passport details, having changed your name or undergone gender reassignment.

It may seem a little complicated, but don’t worry we’ll walk you through it all so that you don’t encounter any bumps in the road.

Can you renew a passport that is expired?

Rest assured, if you’ve let time tick by and your passport is now expired, it doesn’t have to stay that way! A passport renewal is a pretty simple and straightforward process.

Fortunately, as long as your passport is not damaged, you’re good to go.

If you have more than 18 hours but less than two weeks until your flight, you should give the  United States Passport Office a call. You can also renew your passport online, or by mail. We’ll take you through these options now...

How to Renew an Expired Passport?

The process of renewing your expired passport will vary based on a few factors. These include:

  • How old you are
  • The length of time the passport has been expired
  • If you can present the expired passport to the US Department of State

How to renew a passport online?

Most things have gone digital, but you wouldn’t be alone in thinking, ‘can I renew my passport online?’

Well, when it comes to renewing your old passport, you can do some of it online, but not all! While you can fill out the application form DS-82 online, it cannot be submitted online.

You can use the passport application wizard to fill out the application online.

How to renew a passport by mail?

If you want to renew your passport by mail, there are a few requirements your current passport must fulfil. These include:

  • Your expired passport was issued to you under 15 years ago
  • It not significantly damaged
  • You were 16 or over when it was issued
  • The expired passport includes your current name (or, if there’s a name change you have the right paperwork proving it)
  • You have your current expired passport in your possession

If you can answer yes to all of the above, there are a few steps you need to follow. You must:

  • Download, print and fill out form DS-82 (in black ink)
  • Send off your most recent U.S. passport
  • Provide a passport photo
  • Provide documentation of your legal name change (marriage certificate, court order or divorce decree)
  • Provide a money order or personal cheque to pay the renewal fee

Filling out the form DS-82 can take up to 40 minutes, so it’ll be out of your hair in no time.

How to renew a passport in person?

There are certain situations where you will be unable to renew your expired passport online or via mail.

For those older folk not having to deal with all that digital malarkey may be a saving grace.  

These situations include:

  • If you’re applying for a passport for the first-time

Only 42% of Americans own a passport! However, this is up 15% from 2007, so lots more people will be going through the application process.

  • If you’ve lost your passport or its damaged

A damaged or faulty passport counts as ‘inadequate documentation’. This means that you can be denied boarding, and if an airline lets you fly with it they can receive a fine!

So, if your passport has a significant change in physical appearance, or there is damage to the chip, you need to make a new passport application.

  • Your passport was originally issued 15 years ago or more

If your most recent passport is over a decade old, it's off to the passport agency for you!

  • You are under the age of 16

If you’re just finding your feet when it comes to the world of travel, and under the age of 16, you will also need to apply in person for a child’s passport.

In the event that you are living in another country when you apply (this includes Canada) you must locate the U.S. embassy nearest to you and apply in person there.

If you have to renew your passport in person, there are a few different locations across the USA you can visit. You will find regional passport offices in:

  • Minneapolis, MN
  • New Orleans, LA
  • New York, NY
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Portsmouth, NH
  • San Diego, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Seattle, WA
  • St. Albans, VT
  • Stamford, CT
  • Tucson, AZ
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Aurora, CO
  • Boston, MA
  • Buffalo, NY
  • Chicago, IL
  • Dallas, TX
  • Detroit, MI
  • El Paso, TX
  • Honolulu, HI
  • Hot Springs, AR
  • Houston, TX
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Miami, FL

What is the fastest way to renew my passport?

The fastest way to renew your passport is to request an expedited passport. You may need to request this service if you need a valid passport in 24 to 36 hours due to an emergency.

Alternatively, if you require international travel within 2-3 weeks you can also apply for an expedited passport. For this you must have proof of your imminent international travel.

For these passport services, get in touch with the national passport information centre and book an appointment.

You will also have to pay an additional fee of $60 for the expedited service.

What do you need to renew a passport?

But, what is required to renew a passport? Well, there are a few essentials you need to include to make sure the process is as swift as possible. These include:

  • Form DS-11/ form DS-82
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship
  • A photocopy version of your proof of citizenship
  • ID (such as a driver's license)
  • A photocopy version of your ID
  • A passport photo
  • Money for the application fee (written as a cheque or money order)

You should enclose all of your important documents in packaging that will keep them safe and secure. It is preferable that you use a large envelope.

The money required for the application fee should be made in cheque to the Department of State.

What are the requirements for a passport photo?

When it comes to passport photos, they’re never the most flattering representations of ourselves.

You can’t control the angle, pose or lighting, and it’s a no on the pouting. There are some other photo requirements too, that apply to both adult passports and children’s passports. These include:

  • It must be a coloured photo
  • It must be taken within the last 6 months. (You may have peaked 5 years ago, but unfortunately it’s not an accurate representation of you now)
  • No eyeglasses or sunglasses (even if you’ve had a heavy night)
  • You cannot wear a head covering. (Unless it’s for religious or medical purposes, in this case, you’ll be required to sign a statement or get a signed doctors statement)
  • Use a white background
  • It should be high resolution
  • The dimensions should be 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm)
  • You cannot digitally alter the photo (so no facetuning your chin or nose!)
  • It can’t be dirty or damaged

There are rules on your expression and pose too:

  • Your eyes should be open
  • You shouldn’t smile (no matter how excited you are about that trip to Peru)
  • Your face should be fully exposed and in full view. ( So, no hair covering your face to hide the spot on your chin - believe us the passport agency won’t even notice.)

So, now you know the rules on passport photos. All you need to do now is to find somewhere to get your picture taken!

Well, don’t worry because there’s plenty of options:

  • You can take a trip to a shipping center. This could be FedEx or UPS for example
  • Alternatively, pharmacies also offer facilities to take passport photos. Walgreens  or RiteAid are both good options
  • Retail stores also allow you take a passport photo
  • A professional photography studio is one of the more pricey options, and rarely used
  • Passport application acceptance facilities provide a passport photo service. It’s a great one-stop-shop

How long does it take to renew a passport?

You may be wondering what the processing times for routine service are. Well, typically passport processing for a renewed passport takes up to 42-56 business days/ 6-8 weeks.

Admittedly not that quick, which is why it pays off to be organized. Otherwise that long planned trip to see your Grandma Carlotta in Turin will be ruined! No homemade agnolotti and no beautiful boulevards.

If you’re eager to find out how fast your application is being processed you can always track your passport.

You can do this through the Online Passport Status System. This will only become available after 7-10 business days.

How much does it cost to renew a passport?

After learning about the ins and outs of passport renewal, you may be asking yourself, ‘but what is the fee to renew a passport?’

Well, to renew your passport by mail, the passport fees are going to cost you:

  • $110 for a passport book
  • $30 for a passport card
  • $140 for a passport book and card

But hey, it’s worth it for that once in a lifetime trip to hike the mountains of Patagonia!

Where to renew a passport?

If you need to renew your passport in person will have to take a trip to your local passport agency.

To do this you may need to call the national passport information center and make an appointment.

Unfortunately, you cannot renew your passport at a passport acceptance office, like a post office.

Once you have filled out your application, the next steps are out of your hands. Your information will be processed and verified by a passport acceptance facility.

Documents like your birth certificate, will be reviewed to prove your identity and citizenship.

When to renew a passport?

To ensure that you have enough time to sort everything out, it’s best that you renew your passport at least 9 months before its expiration date.

This is recommended by the U.S. State Department. However some countries require your passport to be valid for up to 6 months after travel.

Some of these countries include:

  • Brazil
  • Bolivia
  • Costa Rica
  • Czech Republic
  • France
  • Germany
  • China
  • Kenya
  • Mexico
  • Italy
  • Israel
  • Spain
  • Sweden

... and many, many more.

Some final words

So, now you know what you need to do when you discover your passport is expired. The steps are simple and easy to complete. So really you’ve got no excuse!

Hopefully you’re feeling a little bit more relaxed about the passport application process. And, less stress about passport renewal means more time and energy to focus on planning your trip!

Whether you want to check out the komodo dragons and volcanoes in Bali, or appreciate the architecture in Paris, you’ll be on your way in no time! That’s if coronavirus doesn’t stop you...

If you want to be organised and save some cash, now you know you should renew your passport well in advance, to avoid any extra expedited costs.

However, even when you’ve done everything right on your end, there are sometimes factors outside of your control.

Whether you’re denied boarding due to an overbooked flight, or your flight is delayed, things don’t always go to plan. But don’t worry EC261 has got your back, and you can apply for compensation automatically with ClaimCompass: