Passport renewal isn’t an issue until you dig your paperwork out the night before you have an international flight and realize that it’s expired (uh oh). No matter if you’re headed abroad on a solo trip, on a girls' vacation, or even on your honeymoon, you’re going to need to make sure you’ve got a valid passport in advance. As long as your passport has been issued to you within the last 15 years and hasn’t been damaged, you’ll have several options to choose from when it comes to renewal, all based on the time crunch you’re under for summer travel.
Going on a trip should be all about having fun, and we think it should be as stress-free as possible. So we've rounded up everything you need to know about passport renewal. Sit back, relax, scroll through, and learn how to renew your passport with ease.
Know your timeframe
Passport renewal is not a quick process—if you're not planning to pay the fee to expedite, it can take six to eight weeks start to finish. As soon as you have a trip on the calendar, count how many weeks (or months) out you may be; obviously the earlier you get started, the better. If a vacation abroad pops up at the last minute, don't worry: You can pay an additional fee to speed up the process so it only takes two to three weeks. If you need to jet set out of the country within 14 days, there's also an option to visit a passport renewal office in your city (but more on that later).
Choose your method of renewal
If you're going to renew your passport by mail, you can download the necessary forms online, print them, fill them out, and mail them in. It's not possible to submit them electronically at this time. If you're paying a fee to expedite the process, a personal check or money order in that amount will have to be included in your application (also be sure to write "Expedite" on the outside of your envelope). It's also strongly recommended by the U.S. Department of State to use a mail tracking service since you'll be sending personal documents.
As we mentioned above, if this is a rush job and you're traveling internationally within 14 days, it's necessary for you to visit the passport agency nearest you. You have to make an appointment in advance by calling the National Passport Information Center, but it won't cost you anything to set up a time.
Gather what you'll need
Get everything together that you'll need in advance: your most recent passport, a recent color photograph, a copy of your marriage certificate (if your name has changed), and your personal checkbook. If you're going in person, you should also bring proof of travel like your flight details and ticket receipt. And, most important, once you get your new passport, keep it safe in a chic case like the one below.
What are your tips for passport renewal? Up next: the best cities for female travelers.