passport renewal

Passports: Renewing a Passport Book or Card


Did you know the term “passport” can actually refer to two different documents – a passport book and a passport card? A passport book is the official book-style document that allows a US citizen to travel internationally by land, sea or air. Normally, when a person obtains a passport, this is what he or she will receive. However, a passport card is issued when an individual will be crossing into the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean or Bermuda, either by land or sea. While less costly than the traditional passport book, this card is not valid for international flights. It is important to understand which document you need—to avoid a situation that can prevent you from flying or sailing out of the country as planned.

How Often Is Renewal Necessary

Conveniently, both the passport book and the passport card have the same renewal period. Adults will need to have their passport renewed every 10 years. Minor children will need to have their passports renewed every 5 years until they reach 16 years of age. The reason for this difference is because young children will usually have major shifts in appearance, so it only makes sense that a new photograph will need to be taken more frequently. If you lose your passport, you will also need to go through the renewal process, as well as filling out some additional forms for your own protection.

Renewal Options

There are two basic ways to renew your passport: by mail and in person. If your last passport was issued when you were 16 or older, is undamaged, is in your current name and issued within the past 15 years, you will be able to renew it by mail. However, if any of the above is not the case, you will need to visit a passport office to renew your passport in person. It normally takes 4 to 6 weeks, though it is possible to have this expedited under certain circumstances.

What Will You Need to Renew

When you get ready to renew your passport, make sure you have the actual physical book or card. You will also need a new passport photo, a completed DS-82 (if submitting by mail) and the application fee. If you have lost your passport, you may have to show some additional documentation such as a copy of your official birth certificate or other identification to get things squared away. You can check up on the most up to date information at the U.S. Department of State website.

Your passport is your key to international travel and it acts as a very important form of identification. If there is any chance you may have to leave the country—especially on short notice—keeping your passport up to date is vital. Spend a few minutes today checking your passport to make certain it is up to date and ready to go. While you are at it, make sure you have it stored in a safe and secure location so that it is not in danger of becoming lost or damaged. By doing this, you will assure that you can easily get to your international destination without having to worry about the passport process.


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