How Early Should I Renew an Expiring Passport?
We know the many details you need to cover before taking a holiday. There’s purchasing an airline ticket and booking a hotel room, maybe even finding a babysitter.
If that holiday takes you abroad, you also to get a passport in order. Sometimes this means getting it renewed sooner rather than later.
But your trip is planned next year, do you need to renew your passport this early in the game?
A United States passport for an adult is valid for ten years, and a U.S. passport for a child is valid for five years. Most people think that it’s ok to renew their passport a couple of months before they leave for vacation.
During normal processing times, your passport can usually be processed within eight weeks. At least, that’s without any potential glitches or mistakes. If you hit some snags in the renewal process, it could take up to six months or a year to finalize and renew your expired passport.
But, there are other crucial reasons to file early for a passport renewal.
Many countries now require you have a passport that’s valid for three to six months after you arrive at your destination. Some of these countries include the most visited in the world. Brazil, Mexico, Vietnam and all 26 of the nations that make up the European Schengen Accord enforce this rule. Others include Belize, Palau, Ecuador, Ukraine and Zambia.
So, this means that not only does your passport have to be valid to enter these nations, it must be valid in the event that you have an emergency and have to remain there longer than planned. When traveling abroad, it’s imperative your passport is valid upon entering, but also when leaving that country.
Did you know holidays and world events can also affect your passport renewal?
If there are holidays that are on the annual calendar, allow a few extra days for the Consular’s Office to process your information and issue a renewed passport. For a foreign trip, you might also be trying to avoid peak travel times. The same logic applies when submitting your information for renewal. Those popular dates on the calendar, or special sporting events like the Olympics or World Cup, can cause delays.
All this will reduce processing time and will likely take months instead of weeks.
There are a few things you can do to make the renewal process easier.
Make sure you submit all required documentation, especially your photo that meets the specific criteria. One of the best ways to ensure you have everything you need is to apply in person. You can even have your picture taken at one of the passport facilities. This way you know the image meets all the criteria.
You’ll want to submit your information early should you decide to renew your passport through the mail. And if there’s a discrepancy in the information you sent in or if the Consular’s office is requesting extra documentation, you have 90 days to send it in. If you do not respond within that time frame, your renewal will be voided, and the process will start from the beginning.
Now that you know the time frame, do you need to renew an expiring passport? If so, Passport Health can help! Give us a call at or check out any of our other passport and visa services.
Written for Passport Health by Sabrina Cortes. Sabrina is a freelance writer with a Bachelor’s Degree from Georgian Court University. She currently lives in the Smokey Mountains of western North Carolina.