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U.S. Passport | © Sean Hobson
U.S. Passport | © Sean Hobson
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Everything You Need to Know About Getting a New U.S. Passport

Picture of Nikki Vargas
Travel Editor
Updated: 19 May 2017
Your flight is booked, your trip is planned and mere weeks before your departure you realize, with horror, that your passport needs to be renewed. Perhaps your passport has expired, or maybe that year of backpacking has left no space for even one more stamp, let alone the full page required for that Vietnam visa. Don’t fret—we’ve got you covered! Here’s our painless guide to renewing your U.S. passport.

What is required to renew your U.S. passport?

According to the U.S. Government, if your passport was issued before your 16th birthday, is more than 15 years old, damaged, lost, stolen, issued under a previous name that you are unable to prove, then you will be required to apply for a new passport. If none of these caveats apply, then renewing your passport will be a piece of cake.

What is the cheapest way to renew my passport?

If time is not an issue, then you can easily renew your passport by mail. You will need to send in a DS-82 form, the (undamaged) passport you’re renewing, one recent passport photo stapled to your application, and a check for your passport fees, made out to the National Passport Processing Center. You can find a full list of criteria and addresses to send you application to here.

How do I get a passport renewed quickly?

If you’re meant to leave the country in just a few weeks, don’t panic: You can have your passport renewal expedited. In order to get your passport renewed quickly, you will either have to be traveling in 24-48 hours for an emergency (such as a serious illness, injury, or death in your immediate family), or you will have to be departing within two weeks, in which case you must provide proof of travel.

To be able to submit your application in person, you’ll also need to book an appointment with your regional passport agency by calling the National Passport Information Center (1-877-487-2778;TDD/TTY: 1-888-874-7793). Because of the expedited process, anticipate having to pony up $60 additional on top of the $110 passport fee. Some agency offices even allow for a same day turnaround if you are willing to be at the office when it first opens and pay over quadruple the cost of snail mail application

Passport stamps
Passport stamps | © J Aaron Farr

What do I do if my passport has been lost or stolen?

If your passport has been lost or stolen, you will need to fill out a DS-11 form and submit it, in person, at your regional passport agency.

What do I do if my passport has been lost or stolen abroad?

It’s every traveler’s fear to have their passport lost or stolen while in a foreign country. The first thing to do is to immediately contact the local U.S. embassy in that country. According to the U.S. Passports and International Travel site: “Ask to speak to the Consular Section to report your passport lost or stolen. If you have been the victim of a serious crime, be sure to tell a consular officer about it as soon as possible so we can provide appropriate assistance. If you are scheduled to leave the foreign country shortly, please provide our consular staff with the details of your travel.”

To replace your passport overseas, you will need a passport photo, a form of identification, travel itinerary (tickets, etc.), evidence of U.S. citizenship , and to fill out a DS-11 and DS-64 form (provided at the time). If you do not have all the necessary items to replace your passport, the Consular Section will do its best to get you squared away.

Normal passport fees apply for lost and stolen passports, unless the victim of a crime or disaster, in which case the fees may be waved. Should you need a replacement passport during a weekend or holiday, a time when most U.S. embassies and consulates are closed, your best hope is to to get in touch with the duty officer on call after hours who may be able to provide basic assistance.

What do I do if I run out of passport pages?

First of all, lucky you! It’s a great “problem” to have run out of passport pages as it shows you’re quite the avid traveler. As of 2016, the ease of adding pages to your current passport has been done away with. Should you run out of passport pages, then you will need to get a new passport altogether. If you are a frequent traveler, or anticipate being one, you can opt for a 28-page or 52-page passport book at no additional cost.