US passports are issued to US citizens and also to non-citizen nationals of the US by the US Department of State. US passports are issued in the form of passport books and passport cards. The standard passport book facilitates easy international travel around the world. The Passport card resembles a small ID card that can be used for crossing Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda through land and sea. International travels are not possible with this passport card. A person can hold both US passport and a Passport Card.
The Passport book is issued only for a specific validity period, after the expiration of which it needs to be renewed. Passports are of the following type and the validity is different for each of these.
- Regular Passport – Comes with a dark blue cover. Issued to citizens and nationals. Valid for 10 yrs ( to adults) and for 5 yrs ( for minors) from the date of issue
- Official Passport – Comes with a brown cover. Issued to US citizen Government Employees. Valid for 5 yrs from the date of issue.
- Diplomatic Passport – Comes with a black cover. Issued to American diplomats. Valid for 5 yrs from the date of their issue.
When the individual’s passport is about to expire within the next six months or has already expired, then a passport renewal is a must.
Importance of Passport Renewal
Passport serves as an important identification document for the individual both inside and outside the country. It supplements the Citizenship certificate as proof. It is the means for easy international travel. So it is always important to have a valid passport on hand as a person may be checked for his/her credentials at any point of time and travels may also be unexpected and sudden.
Process of Passport Renewal
Passport renewal by mail
When a person’s US passport was issued when they were 16 yrs old or younger than that or within the last 15 yrs, then this option will suit them. Their passport should be in a fine, undamaged condition and should be submitted along with the passport renewal application. Legal name endorsements on the passport should also be done through mail.
Form DS-82 is used for passport renewal through mail. This can be obtained as a hard copy from any Local Acceptance facility or a Passport Agency. Alternatively, it can be completed online and the printout can be mailed to the Passport Agency with all the required proof. This form should be signed on the first page before mailing it.
Passport renewal in person
When a person has a US passport which does not fall under any of the criteria given above, then this is the only alternative. Also when the passport is highly damaged, mutilated or altered, then this option has to be followed.
Form DS-11 is used for getting a new i.e. passport renewal in person. This form can also be completed either online or by hand. One main thing to be kept in mind is that this form should be signed only in the presence of a passport agent and only when instructed to do so. Proof of US citizenship, identification documents, passport size photo along with the filing fee should be submitted along with the Form DS-11.
Facts about passport renewal
Persons, who are residing out of the US except Canada, should renew their passports at their nearest US Embassy or consulate. If they are in Canada, then they need to mail in their completed Form DS -82 to the address mentioned on the form. While mailing the form, the applicants should ensure to send it through a traceable delivery method and also in a large envelope (to avoid the contents being folded). When a person requires a US passport in less than 4 weeks to get a foreign visa and in less than 2 weeks to undertake any international travel, then they should make an appointment at a Regional Passport Agency. Otherwise appointments are not allowed.