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How to Renew Your Passport at the Post Office
When you have to travel outside of the US, your passport needs to be valid for at least 6 months from your return date. If you are about to travel and realize that you need to renew your passport, you have a few options. The options to renew your passport may be closer than you think.
Luckily, you can renew your passport in just a few simple steps at the post office. Read on to learn all about how to renew your passport at the post office!
Post Office Passport Renewal Overview
If you want to travel abroad, you’re absolutely going to need a valid passport, so it should be the first thing you have ready before boarding the plane. If your passport needs renewal, you are in luck now, because you can apply for this document at a post office.
Renewing your passport at the post office is one of those perks that can make your life a lot easier, especially if you don’t live very close to the passport acceptance center.
At the same time, it is important to bear in mind that the Postal Service is not the one processing the passports or issuing them. It only lets you make applications for obtaining a passport or obtaining other passport-related services and products.
As of this writing, there are more than 4,800 post offices across the U.S. that allow people to apply for passport renewal. You can find your local PO by using USPS’s Post Office Locator tool.
Changes Due to COVID-19
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the way Post Offices accept passport renewal applications also changed. Starting in March 2020, the Postal Service started processing every passport application based on appointments. This is a temporary measure they had to take because of the pandemic.
Therefore, it is essential to make an appointment for your passport renewal at a Post Office lobby self-service kiosk or use an online scheduler for it.
How to Renew a Passport at the Post Office
If you decide that renewing your passport at the post office is the best option, then you should know the right steps to follow. Here are the simple steps you can follow to renew your passport at the Post Office:
- Check Your Eligibility to Renew by Mail
- Prepare Your Application Package
- Mail Your Renewal Application
- Follow Your Application Progress
Below, we’ll look at each of these steps in more detail. Read on to learn more!
Step 1: Check Your Eligibility to Renew by Mail
First, you will have to check if you are eligible to renew your travel document by mail. This is important because there are some restrictions on who may renew their passport by mail. Minors, for example, cannot renew by mail.
Adult passports will need to meet a few additional requirements to be eligible for renewal by mail, including the passport:
- Was given to you when you were 16 years or older
- Was issued during the last 15 years
- Has no damage apart from normal “wear and tear”
- Is in your possession so you can send it with your application
- Was offered to you in your present name; or
- Have you changed your name and can document it
You should not renew your passport by mail if your travel document does not meet these requirements. In this situation, you will have to prepare the same application package as someone who applies for the first time.
Step 2: Prepare Your Application Package
If you are eligible to renew by mail, then it’s time to prepare your application package. To prepare your application package, you will have to
- Complete the Passport Renewal Application Form DS-82
- Print it and sign Form DS-82
- Get your passport photo taken (done only by appointment at certain Post Offices)
- Pay the renewal fee
Please note that it’s always better to renew early because many countries will ask for a valid passport with more than six months of validity remaining to enter the country.
Step 3: Finalize and Mail Your Renewal Application
Once you’ve worked through these steps, collect your current or expired passport, your application, and any documents regarding name changes (if applicable) and put them into a large envelope. Using a USPS delivery tracking service for this is recommended by the Department of State.
Step 4: Follow Your Application Progress
If you opt for USPS tracking, you will be able to check the progress of your application and know when it reached its destination. After 5-6 weeks from submitting the application, you will be able to check the processing status on the DoS platform.
Expedited Delivery for Passport Renewal
If you want to renew your passport by mail and speed up the process, you can pay for expedited delivery. It will allow you to mail with Priority Mail Express. With this service, your passport can be renewed within only 10 weeks. This is ideal if you need your passport renewed sooner for emergency travel.
Bear in mind that it may cost you an extra $60 to use this service.
4 Tips for Renewing Your Passport at the Post Office
To make sure the renewal process goes smoothly, here are some tips to keep in mind:
1. Schedule an Appointment at the Post Office
Many times, people go to a post office for a passport renewal without being aware that they have to make an appointment. Since post offices have their own operating hours or may close their passport services, it is essential to ensure that you submit your renewal application at the right time.
Therefore, making an appointment online is something to consider. With millions of passport applications being processed annually, it is hard for passport acceptance facilities to manage everything, which is why scheduling an appointment is necessary.
2. Choose Your Appointment Time Wisely
The earlier you choose your appointment time, the better. This is especially the case in large cities, where you may have to go to a post office with a lot of traffic.
Even if you scheduled an appointment at a certain time, you may not be attended to at that particular time if the post office is crowded. So, you will have to make sure you have enough free time during the day to deal with the passport renewal.
3. Double-Check Your Documents
The last thing you want is to get to the post office for renewal only to realize you don’t have all your documents. You can avoid this scenario by double-checking your documents. Make sure everything is there so you do not waste your time and delay your passport renewal.
4. Get Your Photo Taken at the Passport Office
A lot of post offices have a photo service, so ask yours if they do this as well. In case they offer the service, you will be able to save a lot of time.
Renewing a Passport at the Post Office Next Steps
Renewing your passport at a post office may be the most convenient option for you. Follow the tips in this article if you want the process to go smoothly and stress-free.