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How can I renew my passport if I can't mail it in?

Question: I need my passport everyday since I work in Mexico. What is the best way to renew, since I can't mail it in with form DS-82? Passport will expire in October.

Answer: There are a few options available to you. If you possess a passport card, you can apply for a passport book. If you possess a passport book, you can apply for a passport card. Therefore, when you mail in your current passport for renewal, you will have the other to use to enter Mexico and return to the United States.

A holder of a passport book can apply for the card using Form DS-82, Application for a Passport Renewal by Mail. Since you cannot send your current passport, you will have to apply for the card by appearing at an application acceptance facility to submit Form DS-11 and all supporting documents.

Another option is to wait until a couple of weeks from your passport's expiration date and apply at a regional passport agency. It is possible to obtain a passport at one of these processing centers as quickly as the same day. Note, agencies usually only attend to American citizens with emergency travel needs such as a death in the family or serious illness. They usually try to accommodate other travel needs but be aware that there is no guarantee your application will be accepted.

Finally, you can enroll in the SENTRI trusted travelers program. Specifically, SENTRI - Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection - is a WHTI-compliant document that offers a more convenient way for travelers who visit Mexico frequently to cross the U.S. and Mexico border with a pre-approved pass or ID.

Note, the passport card and SENTRI card can only be used for land travel. If you travel to Mexico by air, you must present a valid passport book.

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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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