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Renewing a Passport

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us-passport4Preparing for a trip abroad may also mean that renewing a passport will be something you have to do. Today you can renew a passport the old fashioned way at an Application Agency or you can in some cases renew your passport by mail.

When to Renew: Passports issued to people who are over the age of 16 are valid for ten years. If you were under 15 years of age when you received your first passport you must renew it every five years. If you have gotten married or divorced and changed your name legally you must renew your passport before you will be allowed to travel outside the United States.

First passports that are 15 years old must be renewed as well however if your name is still the same and it was issued when you were 16 or older you can renew your passport by mail. If your passport has been damaged in any way it will need to be replaced. Unfortunately most replacement passports require that you start the process over from the beginning.

Where: Renewal applications for your passport may be conducted at a Passport Agency or by mail. is available online at Travel.State.Gov and it can be filled out online and printed, or you can print it out at home. The application must be printed out using only one side of the paper. All applications must be printed in black ink. Instructions for filling out the form can be printed or viewed online.

What do I Need: If you are able to renew your application online or will need to schedule an appointment with an Application Agency you will still need to bring all the required documentation. First is a certified copy of your birth certificate, which contains an embossed seal and signature and two identical two inch by two inch recent photographs. Two other forms of personal identification are needed. These can include your driver's license, social security card, library card, credit card or an employee identification badge.

If you married or divorced changing your name, you must bring your marriage certificate or divorce decree with you. If you do not have alternative identification you can fill out an identifying witness form. The witness must accompany you to the Application Agency. Witness verification is not accepted if you are renewing your passport by mail.

Time Expectations: Passport renewal completion varies. If you are renewing your passport by mail this process can take between four and six weeks. Application Agency renewals take about the same time. Passport renewal applications should be started between six and nine months prior to your current passports expiration date. Special circumstances may require you to renew your passport faster. Expedited service is available for those who qualify.

Renewal Denials: Occasionally passport renewals are denied. While a repeal system is in place that can be a lengthy process. The two most common reasons for denial of a passport renewal are owing back taxes to the Internal Revenue System and owing back child support. If you have been ordered by a court to pay child support and you are $2,500 in arrears your passport will not be renewed until you have paid your arrearages.

If you apply for a renewal and are denied on these grounds it can take up to 30 days for your state agency to contact the Department of Health and Human Services to remove you from the denial list. Some criminal convictions will also prevent you from renewing your passport. It is best to contact the Application Agency nearest you to discuss these matters before you being the process of renewal.

By planning ahead and renewing a passport early, any vacation is guaranteed to start out on the right foot.

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