How to renew your passport by mail

If you are thinking of traveling out of the country, you may want to confirm the validity of your passport. If your passport has less than six months to the expiry date, it is best to renew it before you travel – many countries have this as an entry requirement. If you have time on your hand, you can apply for your passport renewal, before you travel, by mail.

How to renew your passport by mail

When renewing your US passport, the first step is to obtain the DS-82 form. Once you’ve filled this in, you have to attach your Social Security Number. For frequent travelers, you have the option of requesting for a larger 52-page passport booklet at no extra cost.

As you go about filling the forms, you ought to enter the same details as captured on your current passport. If any of the details such as names have changed, it is mandatory to provide a certified copy of the document indicating the name change. For a newly married person, a marriage certificate is applicable. A divorce decree can also be used as proof of name change.

After you’re done filing the forms, you must submit your current passport. You should not have any worries about the old passport book, since the department will mail it back after providing you with a new one.

Before you submit the application, it is important to attach a copy of a current passport photo. The best way of going about it is to staple the photo vertically on all edges. You must not, under any circumstances, bend or fold the passport pictures.

Just before you send the renewal application, you should visit the Department of State website to confirm the passport fees. You can then make a check or money order addressed to the “U.S. Department of State.”

Having completed the application and confirmed that everything is in order, you can then mail it to the National Passport Processing Center, located in Philadelphia.

Photo: Mailbox by jparise licensed under Creative commons 2

Did you know about these passport rules?

Since they are the main form of identification governing international travel, it shouldn’t be surprising that passports come with all sorts of rules that may seem complicated at first. Whether you’re a first time traveler or a seasoned veteran who has been to many different countries, it may be a good idea to review this list of little-known passport facts.

• Your passport is actually the property of the government that issued it (just read the fine print inside the document to see for yourself). This means that it must be surrendered upon request of an authorized member of the US government.

Your passport photo needs to be taken within six months of your passport application. This is to make sure your general appearance is the same as what is on the document itself.

• Some countries require traveler’s passports to fall outside a certain range of its expiration date, usually three or six months. This is to help prevent unsuspecting tourists get stranded in a foreign country with an expired passport.

Passport photos should be taken in plain clothes, rather than a uniform, and many countries will not accept passports that are taken while in uniform.

• Don’t let your passport get too damaged, since this can render it invalid. Your photo and all information needs to be clearly visible or you will need to get a new passport issued. This may be especially important for those travelers who love adventure.

• In some cases, you will need a certain number of remaining pages left in your passport to enter a country. Or, if you are planning on travelling to several countries in succession, it might be a good idea to renew your passport just to get some extra space. If your passport can’t be stamped anymore, it can no longer be used.

• In some countries, you may present a valid visa in an expired passport, as long as you’re able to show a current passport alongside of it. Make sure to do your research first and find out if this applies in your case.

Photo: Passport by seantoyer licensed under Creative commons 2

The most common reasons why passports are denied

Especially if you are on a tight schedule, getting your passport application denied can put a major dampener on your travel plans. In reality, there is no reason why most people should get their application denied, as long as they pay close attention to detail, do everything on time, and get help where they need it. Just in case you are worried about your upcoming passport application, take a look at some of the most common reasons why passport applications are denied. You can save yourself the time and hassle by being thorough and getting accepted the first time through.


Passport photos are one of the most common reasons for an application denial, but also one of the easiest to avoid. All you have to do to make sure your passport photo is up to par is get in touch with, which boast a 99.5% acceptance rate.

Missing documents

Make sure to check and recheck all of the necessary documents: driver’s license, birth certificate, voter ID more are ways to prove your national identity and get your application approved. While you may not need all of these forms of identification, having backups is never a bad thing.

Photocopy issues

Copies that are hard to read can easily get rejected, so make sure you use a quality copier or scanner so all your documents come through crystal clear. And before sending in your application, check and double check all of your documentation to make sure it is perfectly legible. When in doubt, make a new copy.

Criminal history

While rare, it is possible for your passport application to be denied on the grounds of your criminal history. Outstanding warrants, past felony convictions, or outstanding child support could all affect the approval process.

Failure to pay

While it might seem like common sense, passport applications come with fees that need to be paid. If you don’t pay the fee on time then you will definitely get rejected. Since fees can vary depending on how quickly you want to get the document, make sure to check ahead of time how much you will need.

Photo: Passport by RichardBowen licensed under Creative commons 2

Your passport FAQs

There aren’t many more essential on-hand items for world travelers than the passport. As your ticket into and out of the country, it is important to keep safe but also learn as much about as you can. The last thing you want is to be left high and dry in another country because you forgot to read the fine print. Even if you have had a passport for years, there are probably a few lingering questions you still haven’t answered. Take a minute to check and see if they are listed below.

How long is my passport valid?

It depends on how old you were when you got it. If you were older than 16, then it expires after 10 years. If you were younger than 16, then it only lasts five years.

Do children need passports?

Definitely. Children 15 years old or younger need to apply for a child passport when traveling overseas. It may be wise to note that child passport photos take a bit of extra care than adult photos, so checking to make sure your photos make the grade before submitting is a good idea.

How quickly can I get a passport?

If you need a passport within three weeks, you can apply for an expedited passport, which will cost extra. Otherwise, it will take six weeks to get your passport. In the case of life or death emergencies, you can apply for a passport within 24 to 48 hours in certain cases.

How important is the passport photo?

Passport photos are one of the most important parts of the process, and the number one reason why passport applications get rejected. To avoid a rejected application, or any problems at customs, make sure you get professional photos taken.

Is a passport a valid form of ID?

Yes, a passport is actually one of the most highly authenticated forms of identification available and can serve as personal identification in most cases. However, when going about your day to day life in your home country, it may not be advisable to carry your passport, in order to keep it as safe as possible.

Tips for taking a good baby passport photo

If you are planning to travel as a family, there are usually many arrangements to make. Ensuring that your passports are in order is a matter of priority. Taking passport photos for adults and the older children is easy. However, if you have a baby, you need to take extra care to ensure that you get the right picture. If it is your first time taking a baby passport photo, you need all the help you can get.

Tips for preparing and taking a good baby passport photo

Understand the requirements

Before taking a passport picture of your child, you need to know the legal provisions of such a picture. You can visit the State Department’s website for all the information you need.

Do it from home

Whether you are going to ask an expert to take the photo or you intend to do it yourself, it is best to do the session at home. If the baby is in familiar surroundings, they are likely to be more composed. Toddlers are sharp enough to notice a change of environment and it may affect their mood.

Feed the baby before the session

If you do not want to spend a lot of time taking the child passport photo, it is best to prepare the baby by making them as comfortable as possible. A parent should wash the baby and feed them just before the session.

Avoid holding the baby during the session

Many parents assume that they have to hold the head of the child when taking the photo. The best way of going about it is to lay out some towels or use an infant car seat to support the kid upright. One can then cover the support item with a white sheet to ensure that the background has a uniform color.

Avoid putting any toys next to the baby

You may be tempted to place some toys next to the baby to comfort them. Should the toys be in the shot, the picture will not meet the required conditions.

Once you have the child ready and looking at the camera, you can take the pictures. It is best to take many shots to allow you to select the best passport photo from the batch.

3 reasons to use an online passport photo service

An online passport photo service can save you time, money, and frustration on your passport photos, offering a variety of benefits you’d struggle to replicate with a photo booth or other passport solutions. You see particular benefit when dealing with difficult pictures, such as photos taking advantage of certain allowances for headgear, or photos for baby and child passports, where the smallest flaw can render your pictures useless. Here are just three of the pros of online passport photos.

1. Take difficult pictures on your own schedule

Getting an adequate photo of a baby or toddler can be an extremely finicky, difficult task with even the best-behaved child. So can photos when you need to account for certain special rules and requirements unique to your situation. Obtaining the perfect photo in the short period of time you have access to a photo booth requires more than a little luck, which is one reason taking your own photos, then leveraging a photo service online, makes a lot of sense.

2. Maximize your chances of receiving your passport in a timely manner

There are a lot of little details which can render your passport photos unacceptable. When you submit these photos, fully expecting them to be accepted, it can cause unreasonable delays and ruin your ability to travel. By working with a passport service which adjusts and screens photos to achieve high acceptance rates, you’ll find it much easier to plan around receiving your passport when you need it most.

3. Avoid hunting for a photo booth.

Passport-friendly photo booths aren’t always easy to find, depending on where you live. Sometimes the best argument for not using one is that there aren’t any present to use in the first place. It doesn’t make much sense to take a lengthy trip to a photo booth, when you can take perfectly serviceable photos from your home.

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to avoid the booth and stick with an online service. If you want to save on time, money, and headaches, strongly consider using a passport service online to obtain passport photos that you and your nation’s compliance rules will like.

Photo: Passport by seantoyer licensed under Creative commons 2

Why you might want a second passport

You may be surprised to learn that you could qualify for a second passport in addition to your American passport. More and more Americans are eligible for multiple passports because of their ethnic heritage, parents or grandparents, religion or spouse’s birthplace. Sure, to get another passport you will need to apply and get a new set of passport photos taken, but there are some reasons it could actually be a great idea to get another passport if you can.

You can more easily work in another country

Especially if one of your passports belongs to a European Union country, you will have a much easier time working abroad without restrictions.

You can hide where you’ve been

If you ever find yourself traveling to different countries that don’t have a good relationship with each other (i.e. Israel and Arab countries), you will probably be safer and in a better position if you don’t have to advertise that fact at customs.

You don’t want to be identified as an American right away

It’s no secret that many other countries have stereotypical views of American travelers, so not having to show your American passport on a plane can be a good way to get around those biases – or at least, let people give you a chance before you reveal your American citizenship.

You may be able to get cheaper visas or other discounts

For example, visas are cheaper for New Zealanders than Americans, while you may qualify for other travel-related discounts depending on the type of passport you have and where you’re going.

A second passport may be useful if your government is in conflict with another country

Especially if restrictions are placed on where citizens can travel, your second passport may get you out of a bind, or simply make it easier to visit countries that could otherwise be off-limits to you.

Ultimately, having a second passport can make the world more open to you, which is never a bad thing. Plus, you can easily check off the first step of your application by getting your passport pictures taken on our website.