The Best Time to Renew Your Passport via @TravelLatte.net

The Best Time to Renew Your Passport

Everyone wants to know when the best time to do everything is. Buy airplane tickets on a Tuesday. Fly on a Wednesday. Groceries on Wednesday, gas on Monday. Okay, we made that last one up, but here is the very best time to get or renew your passport: RIGHT NOW!

First off, there’s no sense in waiting. Only good things can come from being a passported individual. Travel to distant lands. Meet locals in exotic locales. Maybe find yourself while getting lost halfway around the world. All made possible by your passport.

Second off applies really to Americans: The line for passports is about to make the line at DMV look like amateur hour. Wondering why? Well, if you’re renewing a passport that you got ten years ago, you’re not alone. Not by a long shot.

Expect long lines this year at passport offices, via @TravelLatte.net

These were the lines ten years ago at the Washington Passport Agency in New York. All those people will be back in line as thier passports expire. (Photo: Susan Etheridge for the New York Times)

A long, long time ago – 2006 to be exact – something called the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative took effect. For the first time, Americans needed passports when returning by air from Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. Millions applied then, and the State Department is anticipating millions to renew now. That could spell traffic jams in passport offices across the country.

Adding to that, many countries are now enacting or enforcing existing requirements for your passport to be valid for six months beyond your return date. Plus all of the confusion earlier this year surrounding the Real ID Act, has already led to an increase in passport applications. State Department officials told the New York Times that they expect to issue more than 17 million new passports and renewals this year, which is 1.5 million more than issued in 2015.

Already, the State Department’s website shows processing times of six weeks, about four weeks longer than this time last year. Can’t wait that long? Expedited passports are processed in about three weeks for an extra $60. Outside of that, the fee for a new adult passport remains at $135; renewals are $110. For minors, first-time passports are $105. (Ed Note: One of our team submitted in March and got their renewal back in just under five weeks. As the say, your mileage may vary.)

Filled passport pages via @TravelLatte.net

A well-stamped passport: the world traveler’s best friend and prized possession!

If you’re an avid “stamp collector” and routinely fill up your passport pages, be aware that you can no longer get extra visa pages. As of January 1, 2016, the Department of State will no long add visa pages to existing passports, a decision made to enhance security and comply with international standards. However, when you renew a passport, you do have the option of getting either a 24- or 52-page book.

If you do travel extensively, or would like to, you may want to apply for a second passport while you’re at it. Yes, you can have two U.S. passports IF you can demonstrate a need. Generally, you can get a second passport for political or logistical reasons. For example, you are traveling through sensitive countries which could raise eyebrows in certain other countries. (This currently applies only to the Middle East, where many countries deny entrance to travelers who have an Israeli passport stamp.) The State Department will also grant a second passport if you sent your original away to get a visa for one country but are planning to travel to another in the interim.

The application process for a second passport is identical to the original, except you’ll have to include a brief explanation for needing a second passport. The second passport has its own $135 application fee ($110 for renewals), and its own passport number, but it’s only valid for two years instead of ten.

The only question now is, why are you still sitting there? Shouldn’t you be getting in line at the passport office?

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The Best Time to Renew Your Passport (and other useful info) via @TravelLatte


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17 comments on “The Best Time to Renew Your Passport

  1. Seems to me that immigration officials have no rhyme or reason with where they place their stamps: sometimes their stamp takes up the whole page for no reason and sometimes they do four-to-a-page and just squeeze it into a corner somewhere. I found out that I was out of space when a border control agent informed me she’d stamped the last usable spot. Fortunately we were soon able to drive to Miami and get pages added, though it required an overnight stay. Too bad they don’t do that anymore.

    I have two years left on my passport,which means I’ll have to start thinking about getting a new one next year. Just the thought of not being able to travel during the wait makes me nervous. 🙁

    • Hi Linda! Sometimes, I think they look for that blank page, scream “first!” inside, and then watch our anxiety-face as they take as much room as possible. (Just me?) It’s nice that an agent gave you that heads up…I wonder what happens when they can’t find space?

  2. I was once without my passport for a month when I was living in Malaysia while it floated back and forth between the Chinese embassy and Malaysia immigration as we were attempting to get visas for both simultaneously. It was nerve-wracking. I would have loved to have that 2nd passport. With kids passports only being valid for 5 years and the 6 month validity rule for some countries, my children are about to get their 3rd or 4th set.

    • Nice! Those are some well travelled children! But I can’t imagine how stressful that passport pass-around must have been. Definitely worth a second one in that situation. I wonder if kids can get a second passport? Or would that be too convenient???

  3. I got my latest passport with the extra pages since I filled my previous one. It is also a good idea to check your passport when you are once you arrange for international trips (in case you need a renewal right away). Last year, we made plans to travel to Spain. Two months before the trip we made a weekend trip to Mexico and we discovered my husband’s passport was about to expire. We would have not checked the passport before our trip. The trip to Mexico saved us.

    • Well that’s a good sign, that you needed extra pages! It’s getting more important to check those expiration dates – I keep reading that more and more countries are enforcing the 6-month rule. A trip to Mexico seems like a good way to check your passport, too! 🙂

  4. I haven’t had a passport since I was 18!! Yeah I went to England back then, and haven’t thought to keep it updated. Will be changing that this year as we plan to go on a family cruise towards the end of the year 🙂
    Never realised you could have two passports, nor about how many pages you could ask for! Great tips on the best time to renew your passport.

    • Hi Lisa! Welcome, and thanks for your comment. Needing a passport is a good thing, right? It means you’re going someplace – hopefully someplace cool! 🙂 Have fun on that cruise!

  5. What an informative post! I always worry about when to send my passport in for renewal. I hate the idea of waiting for the new passport when my old one is nearing its end and not being able to travel.

    • Hi Corinne – I’m with you! That’s the worst feeling – trusting your one and only passport, which you could need at any moment, off to a government agency. What could possibly go wrong??? 😉

  6. Well, I haven’t renewed mine since I got married because I only need my ID to travel around Europe:) But when I do go to NYC I’ll need a new passport:) #weekend wanderlust

    • That’s the best – being able to travel without worrying about needing a passport! Someone told me once they think Americans always seem uptight in Europe. It’s because we’re afraid of losing our passport! 😉

  7. It’s always good to have a valid passport. A friend of mine was recently turned back at the airport from going on a trip to Bali because it was a few days short of 6 months before her passport expired. Oops!

    • Hi Lyndall! I hear that a lot, and I understand more countries are starting to adopt and enforce the 6-month rule. Good to know. I would be crushed if I didn’t get to Bali for something like that!

  8. How interesting! I definitely giggled at myself when you wrote the best time is now – that’s the truth! I had no idea that you could both get more pages and also a second passport…. my travel story is just beginning so I’m a newbie with all this passport stuff. Thanks for the tips!

    • Hi Alexandra – Glad you found it both useful and entertaining! If we can inject a little humor into the killer lines at the Passport Office, that’s a good thing. 😉 The second passport seems to be a little secret, maybe because most travelers really don’t need it and the State Department tries to limit it. But there are times when it’s really helpful. Thanks again for stopping by!

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