When it comes time to apply for your US passport renewal, the most important step is filling out the application correctly.
First, you’ll need to make sure that you’re using the correct form. Most of the time, if you’re applying for a US passport renewal you’ll want to use Form DS-82, which allows you to apply by mail. You are eligible to use this form as long as all of the following statements apply to you:
You know where your current US passport is, it has not been damaged or mutilated, and it is no more than 15 years old.
You were 16 or older when your current passport was issued.
The name on your passport matches the name you currently go by, or you have the legal documents to support a name change (such as a marriage certificate or divorce decree).
If one or more of these statements doesn’t apply to you, use form DS-11 instead.
To fill out form DS-82, use black ink and make sure your handwriting is easy to read. If you flunked penmanship, consider typing the form and printing it.
The first page of the form lists the guidelines for using it, while the second page tells you where to send it, describes the different processing options available, and lists the items you need to send. Make sure you read these pages carefully.
The third page contains legal notices about the passport application process and tells you what to do if you lose your passport.
Read this page carefully as well. The fourth page is the page you actually need to fill out.
The first item to consider as you fill out the form is whether you want a passport book, a passport card or both. The passport card is cheaper but cannot be used for air travel or any travel outside of the Western Hemisphere-see Passports Vs. Passport Cards for more information.
Next, fill in your personal information and attach photos. Sign and date the bottom of the page, but note-there is one more page to complete, which asks for more personal information and about your travel plans.
If you’re smart, you’re renewing your passport before you need it, and you may not have travel plans. It’s okay to skip these boxes or write “not applicable” if you don’t have travel plans at this point.
Finally, enclose all the necessary documents with the last two pages of the DS-82 packet and mail them to the address on the information page of the packet with the appropriate fees. You should get your new passport in approximately 6 weeks for normal processing or 3 weeks for expedited processing.
Alison Kroulek is a freelance writer and blogger with a focus on the travel industry.