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Fixing Passport Errors: A Complete Step-By Step Guide & Essential Tips

U.S. Passport with tablet, smartphone and pens.
The U.S. Department of State issues millions of passports each year and a small but significant number contain errors. Prompt correction of these passport errors is crucial for your international travel plans.

This guide will walk you through the process of correcting common passport mistakes such as misspellings, incorrect gender, misprints, and more.

Types of Passport Errors

There are plenty of errors that can appear on a new passport and require corrections. The most common are:

  • Misspelled name - A name mismatch between the passport and other travel documents (like tickets or visas) can lead to issues at immigration checks.
  • Incorrect gender - Such a discrepancy can lead to significant confusion and security concerns at border control checkpoints. As a result, you may be denied entry.
  • Other typos, misspellings, and transposed numbers - Seemingly simple errors like typos or transposing numbers (e.g., incorrect birth dates or passport numbers) can cause complicated issues, especially when these details are used for booking flights or applying for visas. Accurate information is crucial for identity verification and to avoid potential travel delays.
  • Defective electronic chip - If your new passport's RFID chip is not functioning, it may hinder the electronic verification processes used by many countries and result in a denied entry. While most travelers won't discover this issue until their passport is scanned at customs, as long as the rest of the passport is error-free, international travel is likely still possible.
  • Duplicate page numbers - This is a minor issue, but one worth correcting as it could raise concerns about your passport's authenticity, cause confusion about your travel history, and hinder the electronic scanning and verification processes at airports and border crossings.
  • Pages out of sequential order - Similar to the duplicate page issues mentioned above, a passport with misnumbered pages can create authenticity and verification issues when you attempt to use your travel document.
  • Printing misalignment - If your passport pages have alignment, arrangement, and/or color issues caused by a faulty printer, you will need to get your passport reissued.

How to Get a Passport Mistake Corrected

The following is a step-by-step procedure for correcting passport errors. Be sure to follow the process closely, as mistakes or missing information can result in delays in processing your correction application.

  1. Form DS-5504: Complete, print, sign, and date Passport Form DS-5504: Application for a U.S. Passport: Name Change, Data Correction, and Limited Passport Book Replacement
  2. Gather Required Documentation: You will need to include the following with your correction application:
    • The passport with the error
    • a signed statement detailing the error
    • evidence showing the correct data (if personal data is incorrect).
  3. Update Your Passport Photo: If over 90 days have passed since your passport was issued, include a new passport photo.
  4. Where to Submit Your Correction Application:
    • If it has been less than 90 days since your passport was issued, send it to the agency that processed your passport application.
    • If it has been over 90 days, please send it to the address on the DS-5504 form.
    • If you need a correction faster than 2 to 3 weeks, visit a Regional Passport Agency or get help from a passport expediting service (more on this later).
  5. Label for Urgency: If mailing your application, write "Urgent Attention: Correction" on the envelope's exterior.

Important Considerations when Requesting Passport Corrections:

  • Passport corrections are free. In most cases, passport errors are the federal passport office's fault, not yours. For this reason, there is no fee for corrections requested during the passport's validity period.
  • Passports with errors are not returned. If your passport already has sentimental visas or stamps, consider applying for a new one rather than seeking a replacement.
  • New passport validity depends on how quickly you apply for corrections. Within the first year of issuance, corrections are free and result in a new 10-year passport. After a year, corrections are still free, but the passport's expiration date will match the one from the original document.

Fastest Passport Correction Methods

Most errors occur during the passport printing process. If you spot a mistake, it's important to act swiftly, as the correction process timeline is the same as the current expedited passport wait times. Currently., expedited processing takes 2 to 3 weeks.

If you need a passport correction more urgently, you have 2 options:

  1. Visit a Regional Passport Agency - If you want to get a corrected passport in less than 2 weeks, you can visit a Regional Passport Agency. You will need both an appointment and the time to do so.

    While the reissued passport will be free, there are many other costs associated with visiting a Regional Passport Agency on your own that you must consider.
  2. Get Help from a Passport Expediting Service - Hiring a passport expeditor can simplify the process of getting a passport corrected. These courier services can get you your fixed passport as quickly as the same day. This saves you the time, expense, and stress of having to visit a Regional Agency on your own.

    If you live far from the 26 available Regional Passport Agency locations, or if you simply do not have the ability to get to one, a passport expediting service is your best option.

    Based on our over two decades of experience helping readers with their passport and travel document issues, be sure to check out our recommendations for the best passport expeditors in the U.S.

Frequently Asked Questions About Passport Corrections

When Should I Report a Passport Error?

an hourglass running out of time and two clocks

If you report a mistake on your passport within 1 year of receiving it, a corrected passport book or card is issued at no cost. The new, corrected passport is valid for 10 years from the date it is issued.

This isn't the case if you wait longer than a year to report a passport error. While you can still get a corrected passport for free, the reissued passport will only be valid until the expiration date of the original, incorrect passport.

In theory, there is no limit to how long you have to report a mistake on your passport. That said, you should take steps to fix a passport mistake as quickly as possible. An incorrect travel document can ruin your travel plans. It is also worth noting that it takes weeks, sometimes months, for a passport correction application to be processed.

Can I Travel With a Passport That Has Errors?

It is usually possible to travel internationally with a passport with minor mistakes. Larger issues like incorrect name, unreadable text, photo issues, or misprinted personal information are cause for concern.

So, while there's a chance that you can travel with an incorrect passport, it's a big risk. All the expenses and time you invested in your trip abroad could be for nothing if your passport is denied.

How Fast Can I Get Passport Corrections?

Passport corrections are currently being processed in 2 to 3 weeks.

For the fastest service, you will want to either visit a regional passport agency or hire a passport expediting service. With either of these options, it can be possible to get a corrected passport issued as quickly as the same day. Note that these options do come with additional costs.

Should I Sign a Passport That Contains Errors?

Ideally, you should avoid signing your passport until you have fully verified that all of the information and printing are error-free. Your signature represents that you believe your passport is valid and correct.

In some cases, signing and/or using your passport for international travel can eliminate your chance to get free passport corrections. You may have to apply and pay for a passport replacement.

Check for Errors and Ensure a Perfect Passport

The smart decision is to take the steps to correct passport mistakes as soon as you discover them. Ensuring your passport is accurate and perfect is vital for smooth international travel experiences.

Be sure to follow the guidelines above to correct mistakes efficiently, and check out our recommendation for the best passport expediters in the U.S.

Top 5 Questions About Expedited Passport Couriers

1. How can you get a passport when you're in a hurry?
2. What exactly does a passport expediter do?
3. Are passport expediting services legitimate?
4. How can I identify a reliable passport expeditor?
5. Is expedited passport service worth it?

Get answers to these questions and more in our Ultimate U.S. Traveler's Guide to Passport Expediters.

You can also visit our library of articles about passport expediting.

In a Hurry? Get Reliable Expedited Passport Courier Service:Expedite My U.S.Passport Now!
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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