How Long Is A Passport Good For? | [Full Details] Inside

Getting a passport can be a lengthy process as it often takes weeks to process your application. You might think that once you get your passport, you are done with the passport agency forever. However, that is not the case. Unlike your Social Security card, which never expires, passports have an expiration date. Some countries will not allow entry even with a valid passport if it expires within a specific timeframe. So, how long is your passport good for, and how can you renew it? We will give you all the details that you need to know. If you are planning an international trip any time soon, then keep reading!


How Long Is A U.S. Passport Valid For?

So, how long do passports last? A U.S. passport book issued to a person age 16 or older is valid for ten years. The age at which you received your passport plays a role in the length of validity. If you received your passport when you were 15 years or younger, then your passport will only be valid for five years. Once your passport expires, you will need to renew your passport. If you received your original passport when you were 15 or under but got a new passport at age 16 or older, then your new passport will be good for ten years.

In addition to the passport book, the U.S. Department of State also issues passport cards. There are some significant differences between a passport book and a passport card. The passport card is cheaper and smaller. It is about the size of a credit card and can be easily carried with you when traveling. However, it is only valid for entry into Canada, Mexico, and some Caribbean countries via land or sea. If you travel by air, you will always need a passport book. There is also one significant similarity between the passport book and the passport card. They are both valid for the same length of time. Your passport card will be good for five years if you received it when you were under 16, and it will be good for ten years if you received it at age 16 or older.


Passport Validity Requirements For Traveling

You may think that as long as your passport has not expired, you can still travel wherever you would like. However, that is not the case! Most countries have rules about how much validity your passport must have remaining to gain entry into the country. For most countries, this time period is six months from the expected end date or completion of your trip. This means that your passport must be valid well beyond your travel dates. For example, if a U.S. citizen plans a trip to another country for travel from June 1 to June 15, their passport must be valid until December 15. The reason for this is to avoid issues with unexpected delays. Suppose that an emergency arose and you were unable to return to the United States on the date you expected to return. You could end up in a foreign country with an expired passport. That would not be ideal, and it would cause you many additional headaches!

For most countries, the time period mentioned above is six months. However, some countries may have different limits or have no requirements at all. Mexico and Canada do not currently have the six-month limit, but most Asian countries have this limit and strictly enforce the rule. Be sure to check all the details and entry requirements for the country to which you plan to travel before your departure from the United States. You could find yourself in a difficult situation if you arrive at your destination and are denied entry into the country.


Passport Renewal Process

If your passport expiration date is approaching, how do you renew it? The renewal process is easy as long as you meet all the requirements for a regular renewal. You can renew your passport at any time while your passport is still good or up to five years after it expires. If you wait longer than five years after the expiration, then you will need to apply for a new passport just as if it were your first time getting one.

The easiest way to renew your passport is by mail. Here are the things that you will need to renew your passport by mail. First, you need your old passport. It must be in your possession and undamaged other than normal wear and tear. You must have received the passport when you were 16 or older, and you must have obtained the passport within the last 15 years. Finally, the passport must have been issued in your current name, or you must have documentation of your legal name change.

If you meet the criteria above, then you need to complete and submit Form DS-82, the passport renewal application. In addition to the completed application, you will need to include a current passport photo and your old passport. Determine the pricing for your situation and include payment for the fee along with your application. Mail your completed application along with the supporting documents to the Department of State passport office.

For passport holders who do not meet the criteria to renew by mail, you will need to renew your passport in person. Similarly, if you have an emergency situation that requires you to renew your passport quickly with expedited service, then you may qualify for an in-person appointment at a passport agency or passport acceptance facility. This should be a life-or-death emergency that requires you to make immediate travel plans and request an expedited passport. Remember that only adult passports are eligible for renewal by mail. If you need to renew a child’s passport, this must be done in person. Also, remember that you cannot renew your passport at the post office. Post offices do not process passport renewal applications.

Finally, if you are dealing with a lost passport or an expired passport that was issued more than 15 years ago, then you will need to apply for a new passport. The process is the same as applying for the very first time. You will need to complete the Form DS-11 passport application form. You may obtain this form on the State Department website. Next, you will need to gather the appropriate documents. You will need a document that proves your U.S. citizenship, along with a document that proves your identity. Most people use a U.S. birth certificate and a U.S. driver’s license; however, other documents are acceptable as proof of citizenship and proof of identity. You will also need to attach a current passport photo and pay the proper fee. Current passport processing times for a new passport are 8 to 11 weeks, although expediting your request and paying the additional fee could get you a passport in 5 to 7 weeks.


How Long Does It Take To Renew An Expired Passport?

Timeframes for renewing an expired passport are similar to those for receiving a brand new passport. Current processing times for passport services to renew a passport are 8 to 11 weeks. Expedited service will cut this timeframe down to 5 to 7 weeks, but it will cost you an extra $60. Remember that these timeframes begin once the State Department receives your application and not the time at which you mail the application. Transit in the mail can add another one to two weeks to this timeframe.

A limited number of appointments are available at local passport agencies. Due to the COVID pandemic, these appointments are limited to only the most crucial situations. You must have international travel scheduled within the next five business days to qualify for an appointment at a passport facility. If you meet this requirement, then you can attempt to schedule an appointment. You should be able to get your application processed on the same day if you are able to get an appointment at one of these facilities. To learn more about getting your passport fast, you can visit


How To Handle An Expired Passport While Traveling

So, what if your passport expires while you are traveling? You should do everything possible to avoid this situation as it can cause a real headache. Make sure that you check your passport information, including the expiration date, before your departure. Your passport needs to have at least six months validity from the end of your trip. Make sure to confirm entry and valid visa requirements for the country to which you are traveling, and double-check all your travel documents before leaving on your trip. However, in the event you find yourself in this situation, there are some things that you can do.

Homeland Security in the United States is allowing temporary return travel to the United States with an expired passport. If your passport expires after January 1, 2020, you will be allowed to return to the United States until March 31, 2022. However, you cannot depart from the U.S. for international travel with an expired passport, and you must be returning directly to the United States.

If you do not qualify for this exception, you will need to obtain a valid passport before returning to the United States. You will not be allowed to board a flight to the United States without showing a valid passport before boarding. If you are in a foreign country, then you will need to locate the closest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The embassy can assist with passport requirements and obtaining the necessary documentation needed for travel. This process could take several days, so it is best to avoid this situation if at all possible.


The Bottom Line

Adult passports are valid for ten years, while child passports are valid for five years. You can easily renew an adult passport by mail if you still have your old passport and it is not damaged. A child’s passport must always be renewed in person. Processing times for renewals are currently 8 to 11 weeks, so make sure you start the process in plenty of time before your expected travel dates. Waiting too late could put your travel plans in jeopardy as in-person appointments are reserved for those with emergencies that must travel within the next three to five days.


Frequently Asked Questions


Is it easier to renew a passport before it expires?

The process for renewing a passport is the same whether it is still valid or has already expired. However, if the passport has been expired for more than five years, then the process will be more difficult. You will no longer be allowed to submit a renewal application. Instead, you will need to start the process over and request a completely new passport. If you renew your passport while it is still valid or within that five-year window after expiration, then you will likely qualify for a mail-in renewal. You will only need to complete the application form, include your old passport and a current passport photo, pay the proper fee, and wait for your new passport to arrive in the mail.


How much is it to renew a passport?

It costs $130 to renew an adult passport book. If you need your passport faster, then you can request expedited service for an additional $60 fee. A renewal for a passport card will only cost $30. There is no discount for purchasing both at the same time. Renewing both a passport book and a card is $160. Since a child’s passport cannot be renewed, you will need to pay the new passport fee for a child each time. For a passport book, this fee is $100 plus a $35 acceptance fee. The passport card for a child will cost $15 plus the $35 acceptance fee.


What is required to apply for a passport renewal?

The easiest way to renew a passport is by mail. As long as your passport was issued within the last 15 years and you still have it in good condition, then you can renew it by mail. You simply need to complete the renewal application, include your old passport, include a current passport photo, and pay the fee. If you have lost your old passport, it is damaged, or you need to change information other than a legal name change, then you will need to apply for a new passport in person. You can do this at your local passport agency.

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