Whether you are applying for your first passport or renewing a previous one, you may want to send in that application as soon as possible. Back in 2006, US passports became mandatory for international travel to Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean–before this, you could easily travel with a birth certificate and a government-issued photo ID (these are the means of identification that I used to travel to Antigua on my honeymoon in 2005). Yep, back in the good ol’ days, passports weren’t necessary. Now they are–and they are only valid for 10 years.
Because of this, there are rumors that waiting times can be much longer than in the past. According to an article in The New York Times, you need to get your application or renewal form in NOW, as there will definitely be a surge in this department in the coming months. And by surge, we are talking about 17 million people trying to get or renew passports this year.
If you already have a valid US passport that isn’t damaged and you were at least 16 when you applied for your first passport, you may be able to follow these easy steps to renew (please read over all stipulations to ensure that you meet requirements):
- Go to https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports/renew.html.
- Complete Form DS-82 (either complete it online and print the completed form or print it and complete it in black or blue ink).
- Get a new passport photo taken (Walgreens Photo Department will do this and have it ready in about 10 minutes–cost is around $13.00).
- If your name is staying the same, move on to the next bullet point; if your name is changing: Gather any necessary documentation (marriage certificate, court order, etc) ONLY IF YOU WANT THE NEW PASSPORT TO REFLECT A DIFFERENT NAME THAN YOUR CURRENT PASSPORT.
- Find your old passport.
- Write out a check to the U.S. Department of State for your passport fees (if renewing a passport book only, the fee will be $110). Please note that expedited services will be additional.
- Gather all of the above and mail it to:
National Passport Processing Center
Post Office Box 90155 (expedited services: PO Box Number 90955)
Philadelphia, PA 19190-0155
I recently followed the above steps to renew my passport earlier this month–and I already received my new one. From the time I sent in my application to the time I received my new passport was roughly 2 weeks! I am traveling in April, and I didn’t want to take the chance of being caught up in the rush.
If you need to apply for your first passport, you will need to go to a Passport Processing Facility (post office, clerk of courts, etc)–contact the facility for hours and to schedule an appointment, if necessary. To make sure that you have everything you need before you go, visit https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports.html–and don’t forget that you will need 2 separate checks: one to pay for your passport and one to pay the facility processing fee.
So, will you be one of the millions that gets caught sweating at the last minute–or will you be one of the lucky ones who applies early and gets a passport back in a few weeks? If you are traveling soon, I sincerely hope that you are the latter.
Share your passports tips and stories below-I’d love to read them!