How to Renew Your Passport When There’s a Backlog of 2 Million Others Already Waiting

Renewing your passport used to be a regular thing, something you did every 10 years for yourself or every 5 years for your children that wasn’t too much of an ordeal. Well on top of a host of other travel complications, The State Department reports there has been a surge of applications from a lack of international travel over the past couple of years. That has created a backlog of nearly two million applications waiting to be processed. So if you’re wondering How to Renew Your Passport the details have never been more important.

While the standard turnaround time for a passport was approximately 8 weeks, the State Department now recommends submitting your application six months in advance of your international trip. And because mistakes cause a delay, it’s now more important than ever to get everything right.

That’s why this article was written and sourced with information from the U.S. Department of State.

How To Renew Your Passport in Steps

There are several steps in renewing your passport. The process can be started via mail (the easiest), in person, or through an embassy if you live abroad.

Eligibility for Renewal of Your Passport:

According to the U.S. government, a few things will make you eligible to have your passport renewed.

  • If issued before your 16th birthday
  • It is 15 years or older
  • If damaged
  • A lost or stolen passport
  • You may need to change your name on your ticket due to a name change.
  • It is in your possession, and you want to get it renewed.

There are several ways you may be eligible to renew your passport.

Items You Need For Renewal of Your Passport Through the Mail

Before you get your passport renewed, you need several things to get it renewed. These items relate to doing it in the mail. That is probably the easiest way to get it done. These are some of the following:

  • Fill out the Passport Application form DS-82. That is the form needed to have your passport renewed.
  • Include a recent passport photo
  • Send in your original passport should be sent in.
  • You will need to pay the passport fee. The fee is $110 for the passport book and $30 for the passport card. You can get both for the price of $140. Check or Money order to the U.S. Department of State.
  • If you have changed your name, you will need a certified marriage certificate or official document from the court as proof of name change. This change of name documents can help you out in the application process.

Steps on How to Renew Your Passport via Mail

Here are a few steps on how to renew your passport via mail. These steps will help guide you on your way to a successful application process.

1. Gather All the Documents

These documents include:

  • The Application form DS-82
  • Your Original Passport
  • Any Change of Name Documents

2. Send in a Passport Photo

There are many places you can get a passport photo done, but make sure that the photo is excluding a couple of items such as:

  • Earphones in your ear
  • Hats being warn
  • Any uniform or camouflage
  • Eyeglasses

These photos will be on your passport. If you don’t do the photos correctly, you will not get a renewed passport.

3. Pay the Passport Fees

There is a fee for the new passport book or a passport card. If you plan to travel internationally outside North America, it would be best to have a passport book. A passport card works for Canada, Mexico, and a few Caribean Countries.

4. Mail in the Application.

Mail all these documents into the National Passport Processing Center. They will then be able to take care of having your passport renewed. Use Priority-mail to mail it in. Make sure to get a tracking number to help you track the application.

5. Track Your Application

That is a long process, so make sure to track your application. You can follow the envelope, and after 7-10 days, you can track your application online. You can track your application on the U.S. State Department Website.

How to Renew Your Passport in Person

That is a much more complex process since Covid came into place. If one of the above scenarios does not fit you for your passport renewal, you can do it in person.

Items Needed for In-Person Renewal of Your Passport:

  • Fill out the Application Form DS-11
  • A passport photo within the last six months.
  • Documentation of U.S. Citizenship or Naturalization to prove that you are a United States Citizen.
  • An ID such as a Driver’s Licence
  • The fee to pay would be $110 for the passport book and $35 for the application fee.

Steps on How to Renew Your Passport in Person:

Here are some steps that will help guide you on renewing your passport in person.

1. Gather All the Documents Together

  • Filled out Form DS-11
  • Passport Photo
  • A current I.D.
  • Documentation of being a U.S. Citizen

2. Provide Evidence of U.S. Citizenship

  • A U.S. Passport
  • A document of Naturalization
  • A Birth certificate to show you were born in the U.S.A.
  • Any other documents that may suggest that you are a citizen of the U.S.A.

You need proof of citizenship to help you get the passport. So if you can provide any of these documents, that can help you make your case to the passport office.

3. Provide Your Current ID and Photo

When coming to the in-person place to get a renewed passport, you must bring an I.D. and a passport photo. These items will help show who you are. A driver’s license would be suitable to prove your identity.

4. Schedule an Interview

Apply with the passport acceptance facility closest to you. These can like post offices or other types of government buildings.

Due to Covid, there could be longer than expected times to schedule. So go and schedule an appointment to get the passport processed.

5. Pay the Fees

There will be a fee for the passport renewal and the fee for the appointment. There will be an additional fee for getting it done in person. So make sure to have the money ready to pay the fee.

6. Track the Application

Now it is time to track your application. After about 7-10 days of submitting your application, you can track it on the U.S. State Department website.

When Should You Renew Your Passport?

Most international destinations would like you to have a valid passport for six months after the end of your trip. That allows you to be able to exit without overstaying your visa. So due to the pandemic, the U.S. government has been a bit slower processing passports.

There used to be a speedier process, but now the government has said the process could be anywhere between 12-18 weeks to receive the passport. This could mean that your passport could take about 12 weeks to process and another six weeks to send to you. In July, Assistant Secretary for Passports said it could take anywhere from 12-18 weeks. The government website sites it could take anywhere from 8-11 weeks.

If you need a passport much sooner than the 12-18 week time period, you will need to expedite it.

Expediting Your Passport Renewal

That is going to cost a bit more. The fee will be $60 to have the passport process expedited. It will then take between 5-7 weeks to have it done.

The passport expedited quicker for emergency international travel use through an agency. You will need an international itinerary and reasons for the emergency.

Final Thoughts

If you have gotten a renewed sense of seeing the world since being trapped inside of your homes for this pandemic, then it is an excellent time to renew that passport. Having a passport opens the door to seeing so much of the world and experiencing new things like food, culture, and people’s lives.

It is time to learn more about travel hacking and find more affordable ways to travel or ways to travel for free. There are many opportunities to explore, and there are some great cheap places to visit on your way to see the world. That is your chance to take a step to see more.

These steps to renew your passport are the first to start a new adventure. Remember to get the passport renewed within a reasonable amount of time. The processing time now takes longer. Remember that passports last for ten years if you are over 16.

Knowing these things can help you with your decision-making. If you see that your passport is within six months of expiring, it would be an excellent time to get it renewed.

International travel may be different, but it is fun to see and experience new places. You can even live abroad or use geo arbitrage to help save you money, but you cannot do these things if your passport is coming to its expiration date.

This article originally appeared on Savoteur.