A Painless Guide To Getting Your Passport Renewed

Photographed by Winnie Au.
Renewing your passport is one of those things that, if you let it slip your mind now, can be seriously inconvenient down the line. Getting turned away from your vacation abroad at the 11th hour — just because your travel document is expiring imminently — is a terrible experience. The whole renewal process is a bit of a hassle, but planning ahead will save you lots of future headaches (and emotional meltdowns) at the airport. We've put together a comprehensive guide of everything you need to know to get your credentials in order.
Be As Generous With Time As Possible
Even though you can still travel to most countries with six months left on your current passport, it's best to deal with this approximately nine months before the expiration date, according to the official site of the U.S. Government. This also allows ample lead time for the six- to eight-week routine processing period, which includes the wait to receive it in the mail.
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How Much It Costs
Be prepared to shell out more money to get things done quickly. A typical renewal will cost you $110, and the additional cost to expedite it is an extra $60 for two to three weeks. If you want it delivered overnight to your mailing address, the fee is $15.45.
If You're In A Time Crunch
Need your document of identification updated, STAT? Certain passport agencies and courier services will be able to help — but not without charging you an arm and a leg. Companies like Swift can get this turned around in as little time as one business day, but you'll be paying $399 for the service — on top of the expedited fee for the government.
Consider Adding On A Passport Card
If you live near a border or frequently visit Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, or the Caribbean by land or sea, it might be worth it to tack on the $30 passport card, which lets you travel in and out of these countries without the actual booklet.
What You Need
For your in-person appointment, bring along two passport photos, a completed DS-82 form, your latest passport, and the fee. If you've recently changed your name from marriage, you'll need proof the name change, either in the form of a certified marriage certificate or a court order — but that's a whole other story.
Frequent Travelers, Beware
Since 2016, the Government has done away with add-ons for extra pages for all existing passports. Instead, you'll be given a choice of either 28-page or 52-page booklets when you renew — at no additional cost. Since you'll be stuck with each passport for 10 years, the thicker option might be a better deal.
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