How to Renew Your Passport at the Post Office

Many passport-holding adults will be eligible to renew by mail, but some may need to do so in person.
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Written by Alisha McDarris
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Edited by Kevin Berry
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So you have some international travel plans coming up and it’s time to make sure your passport is in order.

You give it a quick look and realize it’s time to renew your passport before you take to the skies. What are you to do?

When it comes time to renew your passport, you have a few options: renew a passport via the U.S. Postal Service by mailing in your application, or, if you’re not eligible to renew and need to apply for a new passport in person, you can head to a post office near you.

Here’s what you can plan for when renewing your passport.

Can I renew my passport at the post office?

You don’t need to go to the post office to renew a passport, but you can if you’d like. You might even find yourself there just to buy postage and drop off the envelope with your application because renewals can be handled entirely by mail.

But not everyone can submit a passport renewal through USPS. You are only eligible to renew by mail if you can reply “yes” to all of the following questions regarding your current passport:

  • You still have your passport and can submit it with your renewal application.

  • It isn’t damaged outside of normal wear.

  • You haven’t reported it lost or stolen.

  • It was issued in the last 15 years.

  • You received it when you were 16 or older.

  • It’s in your current name or you can include documentation, such as a marriage certificate or divorce decree, as proof of a name change.

  • It was valid for the normal 10 years for an adult passport.

If all this checks out, you can fill out the appropriate form online (form DS-82), print it out, and drop it in the mail with the rest of your required documentation.

Apply for a passport in person at USPS

If, on the other hand, you answered “no” to any of the above questions, you may have to apply for a brand new passport in person, which you can do at thousands of USPS locations around the country.

You’ll likely have to do so if you answer “yes” to any of the following:

  • You are applying for your first U.S. passport.

  • You are applying with a child under 16.

  • Your previous U.S. passport was issued when you were under 16.

  • Your previous U.S. passport was lost, stolen or damaged.

  • Your previous U.S. passport was issued more than 15 years ago.

If that’s you, you’ll need to:

  • Fill out form DS-11.

  • Collect necessary documents, such as proof of citizenship and an I.D.

  • Take an appropriate passport photo.

  • Pay the application fees to a passport acceptance facility near you.

Fortunately, many post offices can accept applications (even if passport renewal at the post office isn’t technically an option), and some locations can even take a photo for you for an additional fee. Just make sure to make an appointment before you arrive.

To find the closest post office to you where you can apply in person, head to the U.S. Department of State website.

How to renew a passport with USPS

If you are eligible for a passport renewal via post office, here’s what you’ll need to bring along or package into an envelope to drop in the mail:

You can renew a passport book, card or both by mail. Just make sure you follow all the directions precisely or your application could be delayed or rejected. Mail your application to the address listed on the Department of State website based on the state you live in and whether you want expedited service.

Make sure you purchase sufficient postage for your package.

Expedited passport services

If you have travel coming up soon and can’t wait the 10-13 weeks it may take for your new passport to arrive, you still have options. There are three services available for a quicker turnaround if the routine service won’t cut it:

  • Expedited: Choose this if you’re traveling in less than 13 weeks from when you are submitting your application. You’ll have to pay an extra $60, but you can get your passport in 7-9 weeks instead of 10-13. Don’t forget to factor in mailing times as shipping times aren’t included in processing time estimates.

  • Urgent travel: If you are traveling internationally within 7-9 weeks, you’ll have to make an appointment with a passport agency or passport center to get your application expedited. The appointment has to be within 14 days of scheduled travel if you haven’t submitted a passport application yet and within 5 days if you have. Make an appointment by calling 1-877-487-2778.

  • Emergency: Reserved for life-and-death emergencies where international travel is required within 72 hours to reach an immediate family member who is dying or recently deceased. You’ll have to collect the usual passport application paperwork and requirements, plus documentation of the emergency and proof that you’re traveling within three days of your appointment. Call 1-877-487-2778 to make an appointment for this application service.

Track your USPS renewal passport process

Whether you’re renewing your passport or applying for a new one, you can track its progress online. Simply subscribe to receive updates via email and you’ll be notified when your application is being processed.

Bottom Line

It’s easy to use USPS to renew your passport. Just make sure that you’re eligible to renew by mail and that you include all necessary details, documentation and requested items in your envelope. Then drop it at a post office near you.

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