I remember having to go through the process of renewing my passport in the past. Uf! Not something I like to think about. Well, all of that has changed now, and let me tell you, it’s for the better. You can now actually renew your U.S. passport by mail! It’s a quick, easy, and completely painless process. So, if you’re a United States citizen planning to renew your passport sometime soon, here is everything you need to know.
Are you eligible to apply by mail?
The first thing you need to renew your U.S. passport is to check if the following statements apply to you:
- I can submit my most recent U.S. passport book with this application.
- I was at least 16 years old when my most recent U.S. passport book was issued.
- My most recent U.S. passport book was issued less than 15 years ago.
- The U.S. passport book that I am renewing has not been lost, stolen, mutilated, or damaged.
- My U.S. passport has not been limited from the average ten year validity period due to passport damage/mutilation, multiple passport thefts/losses, or non-compliance with 22 C.F.R. 51.41.
- I use the same name as on my recent U.S. passport book.
If they do, you are eligible to renew your U.S. passport by mail (yay!). Source: DS-82: U.S. Passport Renewal Application for Eligible Individuals (By Mail)
After determining that you are eligible to apply by mail, you’ll need to fill out Form DS-82. You can complete this form online by clicking here. The first page of DS-82 will look like the picture below:
After filling out this form, print it out. Next, you’ll need to provide a photo and staple it to your application. I got my passport picture taken at CVS pharmacy for USD 12, and it only took about 15 minutes. Most local pharmacies will offer this service. Be careful when attaching the photo to your application. You should not bend the picture, and the staples should be as close to the edge as possible.
Next, you’ll need to write a check out to the U.S. Department of State with the amount for your passport (USD 110). Somewhere on this check, you’ll also have to write your full name and your date of birth.
Lastly, you’ll need to include your old passport in the envelope.
How can I get extra pages in my passport book?
The United States no longer allows its citizens to add extra pages to their old passports. Therefore, they now recognize the option to get a passport that has 52 pages. In contrast, a passport would typically only have 28. These extra pages come free of charge and are especially recommended for frequent fliers.
If you would like to receive the 52-page passport book, make sure to check this option when filling out Form DS-82. I’ll show you in the photo below where this option will appear.
What should be included in my envelope?
I just felt like I should reiterate this to make it extra clear. Here is what should be sent in your envelope:
- The completed DS-82 form
- Your old passport
- A color photo of yourself that is stapled to the DS-82 form
- A check for $110 (or whatever your amount is) to the U.S. Department of State. Your full name and date of birth should be written on this check.
Your envelope with all of these items should then be sent to:
National Processing Center
Post Office Box 90155
Philadelphia, PA 19190-0155
How long does it take?
If you’re renewing your passport and do not choose the expedited service, it supposedly takes between 4-6 weeks to receive your new passport in the mail. Nonetheless, it took me only nine days from mailing my old passport and documents until receiving my new passport in the mail. Pretty impressive! This was with the regular service (not expedited).
Should I choose the expedited service?
I recommend not doing the expedited service unless you need to renew your U.S. passport ASAP for some reason. It’s around an extra USD 80. To me, that just wasn’t worth it.
Do I get my old passport back?
Yes, you do! Thank goodness, because I’ve spent a lot of money on South American visas. Don’t freak out when you get your package with your new passport, and your old passport is nowhere to be found. Your old passport is typically sent back to you in a separate package.