The US passport renewal process is something with which many people are unfamiliar, as an adult passport is good for 10 years. If you own a passport and haven't checked it lately, it's a good idea to dust it off and check the expiration date. It just may be coming up for renewal in the next 6 months so you'll want to start the renewal process now.
The steps for renewing a US passport are a lot quicker and less work than an initial first time application. Since your citizenship has already been confirmed via the Birth Certificate, Naturalization Certificate or Certificate of Citizenship that you submitted with your initial application, this doesn't change and doesn't need to be resubmitted.
Another convenient feature of passport renewal, versus initial application, is that you can renew your passport by mail. This means you can avoid standing in long lines at the office, waiting to have your identification verified and your signature witnessed.
One trip that must be made, however, is to a local passport office to have a new set of passport photographs taken. Just about everyone looks different after 10 years so the United States Department of State makes this a mandatory requirement for renewals. As before, the picture must meet strict standards such as 2x2 inches in size and specific criteria for the pose and setting.
There's little additional supporting documentation required for your renewal, unless you've changed your name as in the case of a divorce, marriage or other reason. If so, start looking around for those documents. Be sure to make a copy for your files, although your paperwork will be returned to you with your new passport.
The application form for a renewal is a DS-82, "Application for a U.S. Passport by Mail". This form is available to pick up at any passport office, such as a . Another option is to visit the United States Department of State web site to download and print it at home. Always use black ink and fill in each question carefully. Don't forget to sign it!
It does cost a fee to apply for a new passport, although it is less than a first time application. Current fees are $60.00, payable by money order or check made out to the United States Department of State. Passport photos cost around $10.00 to $20.00 and you'll want to pick up a durable and sturdy envelope for mailing.
Before sealing the envelope to take to the post office, don't forget to include your current passport! It's always a good idea to also make a copy of everything that's going in that envelope, just to be safe. Send your package via some traceable means such as certified mail. Don't take chances that it all becomes lost with no way to track it down.
Expect to wait about 3 to 4 weeks before getting your new passport. If this is too long, you can look into "expedited" service which costs a bit more. Check the US Department of State web site to find out current fees and how to use this process.
That's all you have to do! As you can see, the US passport renewal process is pretty straight forward and easy. Check all your paperwork carefully and you'll find yourself with a new passport in no time, good for another 10 years.
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