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How to renew your passport

So you need to renew your passport and you don't know the best route to take? You can apply for a passport renewal by mail if you already have a passport that is not damaged, and issued within the past fifteen years. If you were at least age sixteen when it was issued, and still have the same name as on the original passport, you can also renew your passport by mail. If your name has changed since your passport was issued, be sure to enclose a certified copy of the legal document specifying your name change, such as a marriage certificate, divorce decree, adoption decree, or court order. Take note that no photocopies are accepted. If your passport has been mutilated, altered, or damaged you cannot apply by mail and must apply in person. Also, citizens of the United States living abroad, except those living in Canada, should renew their passports at the nearest US embassy or consulate office.

Advice on how to apply for passport renewal can be found online at www.travel.state.gov, the official website of the United States Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs. Visitors can search the most requested information, applications, and forms including those for citizens, immigrants, and temporary visitors to the United States. Apply for a new passport, check the status of your application, or report a lost or stolen passport. This site features comprehensive passport policy information, and other services including where to apply in the United States. Be sure to plan in plenty of time before your trip; some countries require that your passport be valid at least six months beyond the dates of your trip and/or that it has two to four black visa/stamp pages available. Some airlines will not allow you to board the aircraft if these requirements are not met.

If you are eligible for passport renewal by mail, just go to the Department of Stateís website listed above and download the application form. Sign and date the application, and attach it to your most recent passport, in addition to two identical passport photos, and the fee payable to the United States Department of State. If you need your passport right away, you may request expedited service for an additional fee. As for your old passport, it will be returned to you with your new one. There are also other passport renewal services online, but they may charge exorbitant fees or other hidden costs, and you may not get it back in a timely manner, even if thatís what they advertise, so be careful with these types of expedited services.

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