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Should You Renew an Expired Passport or Apply for a New One?

Once expired, a passport has outlived its usefulness. You cannot travel abroad nor apply for a travel visa with an expired passport. If your passport has passed the expiration date and you need to travel internationally for any reason, you will need to get it replaced.

This leaves travelers with two options: apply for a passport renewal or apply for a new passport. The best choice depends on how old you were when the passport was issued and how much time has elapsed since the passport's expiration date.

When Can an Expedited Passport Be Renewed?

You can apply to get your passport renewed by mail if your passport if it meets all of the following criteria:

  • The expired passport was issued not more than 15 years ago
  • The expired passport was not damaged
  • The expired passport was issued when the holder was 16 years old or older

In other words, passports issued to applicants age 16 or older can be renewed by mail up to 5 years after the expiration date (as long as the passport is not significantly damaged).

You can follow the instructions for renewing an expired passport by mail or enlist a registered passport courier service to help.

Either way, having the ability to renew a passport instead of applying for a new one is easier and less complicated than restarting the entire application process from scratch. For this reason, it is advisable to renew your passport while you are eligible to do so rather than waiting until your next trip abroad when it might be too late.

Replacing an Expired Passport That Does Not Qualify for Renewal

If your expired passport does not meet the aforementioned criteria, you need to follow the steps for applying for a new passport to get it replaced.

 

Regardless of which option is right for you, processing a passport application takes up to 12 weeks for standard service or up to 6 weeks for expedited service. These times are subject to change and can take even longer in times of high demand.

If you have a travel emergency and need to get a passport fast or expedite a passport renewal, you can make an appointment at a regional agency.

If you don't have the time, ability, or desire to visit the processing center? Get a third party to go for you. You can authorize a relative, friend, travel agent or an express passport courier.

NOTE: Don't throw away or destroy that expired passport! it is possible to use an expired passport as proof of citizenship when you apply for a new passport. So, if you don't intend to replace your expired passport now, you may want to hold on to it so that it is available when you are ready to get a new one.

Expired Passport Renewal FAQ

Is there still an official record of my expired passport?  Question: Hello--I'm applying for a new passport because my former one expired years ago. I can't find my old passport to use as identification, so ...

How long do I have to renew my passport?  Question: I want to confirm what I read. My passport will expire on March 27, 2011. I have no urgent need to renew it at this time. I read that I ...

Can I renew an expired passport by mail?  Question: My passport expired on Feb. 7, 2011. Can I renew it by mail and expedite the processing as I am planning to travel out of the country in a month....

Renewal of 18-Year-Old's Passport  Question: Married parents and 18-year-old's passports all expired Jan 2010. Do both parents need to accompany the child to the USPS passport office to renew ...

Which form do I use to get another passport?  Question: I had a passport but I cannot find it. It got packed away in a move. It is probably almost expired because I think I got it in 2000. Do I apply ...

Renewal of expired official passports  Question: My wife and I both had official (red) passports in addition to our blue tourist passports...while stationed overseas as DOD civilians. The ...

Renewal question for passport that expires soon  Question: My passport expires at the end of this month - if I don't get it to you in time can it still be "renewed" or do I have to go through a different ...

Submitting an Expired Passport for Renewal  Question: Do I have to submit my most recent passport (will expire in 6/2011) when I renew or can I submit a prior passport that expired in 1999? I ...

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