How to renew a U.S. passport abroad?
The primary function of a passport, as a travel document that grants you access to international travel, also implies that you might one day need to renew your passport while not in your home country.
Table of contents
- Where to apply to renew your American passport
- Which form do you need to renew your US passport?
- Documents needed for applying with the DS-11 form
- Documents needed for applying with the DS-82 form
- US passport renewal photo requirements
- Get a photo done for US passport renewal
This article will cover the basics of renewing your US passport abroad, which will be especially handy for expats.
Where to apply to renew your American passport
The general rule for getting a new passport abroad is to apply at the local US embassy or consulate. However, if you’re in Canada, a unique set of rules applies.
If you do not need to travel internationally in the next 4-6 weeks and are eligible, simply send your Form DS-82 to Canada Post and apply to renew by mail. In fact, American consulate visits for US passport renewal in Canada are only available for those eligible and traveling within the next 4-6 weeks.
Which form do you need to renew your US passport?
Depending on your situation, the form you need to renew your passport differs, as well as supporting paperwork.
Use the DS-82 form only if your passport fulfills all the following requirements:
- Can be submitted with your application;
- Is not damaged (other than normal "wear and tear");
- You got it when you were age 16 or older;
- You obtained it within the last 15 years;
- The passport was issued in your current name (or you can document your name change with an original or certified copy of your marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court order).
If any of the above statements do not apply to you, use Form DS-11.
Documents needed for applying with the DS-11 form
Evidence of US citizenship and a copy
This may be one of the following documents:
- Fully valid, undamaged U.S. passport (may be expired);
- U.S. birth certificate that meets the following requirements:
- Issued by the city, county, or state of birth;
- Lists your full name, date of birth, and place of birth;
- Lists your parent(s)' full names;
- Has the date filed with the registrar's office (must be within one year of birth);
- Has the registrar's signature;
- Has the seal of the issuing authority.
- Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth;
- Certificate of Naturalization;
- Certificate of Citizenship.
You must also provide a legible copy that’s also single-sided, printed in black and white on white 8.5”x11” standard paper.
Identifying document and a photocopy
The document may be one of the following:
- Valid or expired, undamaged U.S. passport book or passport card;
- In-state, fully valid driver's license or enhanced driver's license with photo;
- Certificate of Naturalization;
- Certificate of Citizenship;
- Government employee ID (city, county, state, or federal);
- U.S. military or military dependent ID;
- Current (valid) foreign passport;
- Matricula Consular (Mexican Consular ID);
- U.S. Permanent Resident Card (Green Card);
- Trusted Traveler IDs (including valid Global Entry, FAST, SENTRI, and NEXUS cards);
- Enhanced Tribal Cards and Native American tribal photo IDs;
- Other documents:
- In-state, fully-valid learner's permit with photo;
- In-state, fully-valid non-driver ID with photo;
- Temporary driver's license with photo.
You must also provide a copy of the chosen document, with the exact requirements as the US citizenship document copy.
If any particular circumstances apply to you, you will need to provide additional paperwork accordingly.
A valid photo
You must also provide a valid passport application photo that fulfills the requirements, which we will explain in the next section.
Documents needed for applying with the DS-82 form
Evidence of US citizenship
Simply use your old US passport as proof of US citizenship.
If any exceptional circumstances apply to you, you will need to submit extra documents accordingly.
A valid photo
Your photo must satisfy all the technical requirements, which we will explain below.
US passport renewal photo requirements
The requirements for passport renewal applications are the same as new applications, which are:
- The photo must not be older than six months, so it identifies you as you currently look;
- The photo’s background must be plain white, with no notable shadow or extraneous object;
- The US visa photo size is 2x2 inches (5x5 cm) in print and 600 - 1200 pixels in digital;
- The head in the picture must be centered and sized between 1” and 1.4” (25 and 35 mm);
- Eyeglasses are not allowed;
- Head coverings are only allowed for religious or medical reasons, with a signed statement;
- You must be looking straight into the camera with a neutral facial expression.
Here is an example:
Get a photo done for US passport renewal
As mentioned above, US passport photos have to follow specific requirements to be accepted. To avoid wasting time and resources, we recommend you trust your photo editing to a professional tool that guarantees that your image will fully satisfy the parameters up to the subtlest technical details.
Visafoto has been processing US passport pictures since 2013, and it can help you as well. Just upload a portrait (or even a selfie) of you taken in decent lighting, with proper dress code, and properly posed. Visafoto will take care of the rest.
Take an image with a smartphone or camera against any background, upload it here and instantly get a professional photo for your visa, passport, or ID.
You will get two files from Visafoto: a digital photo for electronic applications and a template ready for printing.