Legal How-To: Renewing Your Passport

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on July 30, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

If you're planning some international travel, making sure your passport is valid can save not only time and money, but also prevent the potential worst-case scenario of getting turned back at the airport or the border.

If your passport is expired, you'll need to renew it. Even if your passport is still good for a few more months, you'll likely need to renew it. According to the U.S. Department of State website, some countries require that a passport be valid at least six months beyond the date of your trip, and some airlines will refuse to let you fly if this requirement isn't satisfied.

So how do you go about renewing your passport?

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Renewal by Mail

In some circumstances, you can renew an existing passport by mail. According to the State Department, you can renew by mail if your most recent passport:

  • Is undamaged and submitted along with your application;
  • Was issued when you were 16 or older;
  • Was issued in the last 15 years; and
  • Was issued in your current name or you are able to legally document a change of name with a certified copy of your marriage certificate or government issued document evidencing your legal name change.

You must meet all of the above criteria in order to renew by mail. Otherwise, you will need to renew your passport in person.

Applying in Person

Those ineligible to renew by mail or who need to expedite their passports can apply in person at two different types of locations: passport acceptance facilities and passport agencies.

Passport acceptance facilities include post offices, libraries, and other local government offices. You can find a passport acceptance facility near you by using this Passport Acceptance Facility Search page provided by the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Passport agencies are city and regional offices run by the Department of State. These offices generally require an appointment, and in most cases, they require proof of travel.

Need More Help?

If you have more questions about the passport renewal process check out the list of passport resources at FindLaw's Learn About the Law section on immigration law.

Are you facing a legal issue you'd like to handle on your own? Suggest a topic for our Legal How-To series by sending us a tweet @FindLawConsumer with the hashtag #HowTo.

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