You finally have that trip of a lifetime booked! Is your passport ready to go?
Getting your first passport is exciting! You probably feel ready to travel anywhere with that lovely little book in your possession. However, passports are only good for ten years. Every passport needs to be renewed and kept current at all times. Although it may seem daunting, the process is relatively straightforward.
I have outlined this below so you can renew your passport in a few simple steps!
Number One – When to Renew?
Make a note in your calendar or task list as to when your passport will expire and give yourself six months advance notice.
With all of the electric planners on the market these days, and the calendar app resident on smartphones, it’s easy to schedule a deadline for your passport renewal. A typical passport renewal will take between four to six weeks, so allow yourself the necessary time. You can get a rush renewal for additional fees, but with planning why bother?
You never know when something will come up and you need a current passport. Having an expired one does you no good. If you are planning that trip of a lifetime overseas, you don’t want to get caught with documents that are out of date.
Number Two – Where to Renew?
You can do most of the renewal online after you have your initial passport, which makes it very easy. However, you need to check these items first. If you answer NO to ANY of these, you will need to apply in person.
- You have your passport with you and it is undamaged
- Your last passport was issued when you were 16 or older
- Your last passport was issued within the last 15 years
- You have not changed your name (or if you have documentation of any name changes, i.e., a marriage certificate)
Number Three - Where Can I Get A Passport Photo?
The good news here is that you can actually take your own photo instead of going to a photo lab. How times have changed! Here are the parameters that you should follow from the travel.state.gov website.
All photos for a US passport need to be a 2″x2″ size. Your image should be taken looking straight into the camera. Also, your image should be centered in the photo, so that your head size is 1 -1 3/8″ from the top of your head to the bottom of your chin.
Number Four– Do I need a Passport Card or a Passport Book / Booklet?
Passport cards are a little more convenient as they fit into your wallet and are the size of a driver’s license; however, a passport card can only be used for ground transportation. So for Americans, if you are traveling to any place other than Canada or Mexico, you will need a booklet.
All air and sea travel currently requires a passport booklet along with possible vaccination ID, so be sure to check with your destination prior to embarking on your journey.
I recently overheard an interesting conversation where someone noted they forgot their vaccination card saying, “what are they going to do, send me back?” Well, yes possibly.
Other countries may have strict rules to follow during this pandemic. Flying to England recently, I was surprised to find that the flight attendants were not allowing passengers off the aircraft until they produced a vaccine card. So be prepared!
Number Five - How Much Does A Renewal Cost?
As this blog dates, fees may change so be sure to double check the current fee when submitting your application. Currently in 2022, the fee for a booklet renewal is $130 by mail. If you are renewing a passport card, the fee is only $30 by mail.
As a final note, be sure to leave enough time for your documents to process. Typical turnaround time is four to six weeks for a standard passport renewal here in the States. Once you have it, let’s book a trip!