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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Renewing Your US Passport

Things just aren't what they used to be when it comes to travel, now more than ever you must have a current valid passport to travel just about anywhere.
For most of us it's very easy to get in trouble when it comes to your passport and not checking to see if it's expired or going to expire soon. Correct United States documentation is often the last thing we think of when planning international travel. If you have found yourself in that far too often predicament of having upcoming travel plans and an expired or in correct documents here are some tips that can help.

American citizens are encouraged to apply for a passport renewal approximately nine months before it expires. The reason for this is that some countries require that your passport be valid at least six months beyond the dates of your trip. Furthermore, some airlines will not allow you to board if this requirement is not met.

Renewing your passport step number one: Find your old papers such as your birth certificate. If you don't have your old passport it can be a nightmare to get a new one because you must surrender your old document before the authorities will issue you a new one. So if you don't have it, start looking if you still can't find it contact your local United States Department of State office immediately, there are special lost forms you must fill out and this can add significant time to the process of getting your new one.

Renewing your passport step number two: Get an up-to-date photo taken. You'll need two copies of the new photo and you can get these in thousands of locations. One of the easiest and most cost-effective places to get a photo taken is Walmart or Kinko's. Most Walmart and Kinko's locations offer photo services and typically this should cost you no more than $20.

Renewing your passport step number three: Renewing your US passport via the mail. You can renew by mail if you meet all of the following criteria:

  • One, your current U.S. document is undamaged and can be turned in with your application

  • Two, your current documents were issued to you after the age of 16. If it was issued to you before you turned 16 you can not renew it via the mail. 

  • Three, it was issued to you with in the last 15 years. If it has been over 15 years since it was issued to you, you can not renew it via the mail. 

  • Four, it was issued under your current legal name. If you have changed your name legally since the last issuance you can not renew it via the mail. 

If you meet all of the above criteria renewing via the mail is a fairly simple process.

You can download and submit via mail along with your current passport, photos and a check. Form DS-82 from the State Department's website. Routine issuance takes typically 4 to 6 weeks via the mail. If you pay for expedited service you can typically receive it via the mail in 2 to 3 weeks.

As you can see the process is not as simple as driving down to your local post office in getting it. Give yourself plenty of time to get all the paperwork done correctly and have your new documents mailed to you. There is nothing worse than missing a wonderful trip because of passport issues.

Where do you turn when you need to get your passport in a hurry? The U.S. Department of State Passport Services claims to process passports in six weeks for regular services and in two weeks for expedited services. Neither is guaranteed and it often takes longer, especially during peak travel season.

To get your passport processed and returned to you within 10 business days to as little as 24 hours, you have to rely on a private passport expeditor. The National Association of Passport and Visa Services says that there are approximately 100 expeditors operating in the United States. If you plan to use one of these services, choose one that has an easy-to-follow application process, online tracking, money-back guarantee and reasonable fees. RushMyPassport.com is one of the best known of these private services that charges an additional fee to expedite your US passport in 1-18 days.

The best of them can also answer questions and make the process simpler. In that regard, RushMyPassport.com, offers a detailed online checklist, right down to what is needed to be provided in terms of photos.

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