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Do I need a new passport

by Terrence
(Calistoga, CA, USA 94515)

Question: My passport went through a washing in a washing machine. I can still read all of the information on the inside front cover, identify myself in the picture, read my signature and read the various Visas inside.

It just looks beat-up and was obviously wet at time. It does not expire in the next three years but I am going to England and Scotland in August and do not want to be told at the time that it is not valid because of its condition. Should apply for a new one? Thanks, Terrence

Answer: The U.S. Department of State states that American citizens should replace a passport that is significantly damaged, especially if the book cover or the page displaying your personal data and photo has been affected. Damages that the State Department believes constitute a need to replace the damaged passport include water damage, a significant tear, unofficial markings on the data page, missing visa pages (torn out), a hole punch and other injuries.

Normal wear of a United States passport is understandable and likely does not constitute “damage”. For instance, the expected bend of a passport after being carried in your back pocket or fanning of the visa pages after extensive opening and closing.

It is possible (but not likely) that you could be denied entry into any foreign country and face problems upon re-entry into the United States, depending on the extent of the damage. You will have to make an evaluation of the extent of the damage and decide whether or not you believe it to be significant enough to warrant the request for a new passport. From the description you gave, it sound like you can use the passport for your trip without any problem.

If you decide to replace it, you may prefer to appear at a passport application acceptance facility in order to apply for a new passport. If you submit the application for a renewal by mail and it is determined that the passport is "damaged", then you will be asked to apply again using Form DS-11. For complete instructions, click the link below.

How to Apply for a New Passport

Routine services takes 4-6 weeks. Expedited service takes 2-3 weeks. If you want to get a passport faster, then you can either visit the San Francisco Passport Agency or apply through an experience passport expediting service. For more information, click the appropriate link below.

San Francisco Passport Agency

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Return to Passport Replacement FAQ.

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About the Author: For over 20 years, the U.S. Passport Service Guide team has helped hundreds of thousands of travelers with their travel document questions and shared advice about how to make traveling abroad simpler, safer, and more enjoyable.

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