How to Apply, Replace, or Renew Your Passport
¨I’d rather have a passport full of stamps than a house full of stuff.¨
How to Apply for a Passport?
You need a passport (or passport card) to travel outside the country nowadays. (This includes travel to Mexico and Canada).
In the US you must apply for a new passport at a ¨acceptance facility¨ (most post offices). You will be required to provide proof of citizenship (usually a birth certificate), appropriate forms, processing fees, a photo, and a photo ID. You can find the requirements and forms online. (See here for more details on US requirements and here for Canada).
Generally, you should submit the application and supporting documentation to the ¨acceptance facility¨ 4-6 weeks in advance of travel. (It may take much longer in 2021).
The ¨acceptance facility¨ will do a cursory review and send the application to a processing center. You will receive the passport usually within a couple of weeks afterward.
You may be able to get everything processed within fourteen days of your trip for extra money (with proof of travel) by going IN-PERSON to an application center. (Most application centers are in larger cities like Boston or Seattle. Here is a complete list of where you can apply).
You can only get a passport for immediate travel in the case of an emergency. (More details here).
A Note on Photos
Probably the most common reason for application rejection is because the photo does not meet the criteria. (I recommend that you try to find a photo shop that has dealt regularly with taking the type of photos required. Fortunately, the staff at the processing center or consulate should be able to refer you to the right photo shop.
Renewing or Replacing Your Passport Abroad
Since Fifty-Plus Nomads travel and live abroad for extended periods, there is a good chance that we will need at some point to renew or replace our passports while overseas. If this is the case, you will have to apply through your consulate or embassy.
In Merida, Mexico, the process to get a replacement was relatively expensive (around $200) but straightforward once I got to the consulate. (The process required filling out the application with a photo and fee. I also had to prepare a FedEx return envelope).
The biggest problem was getting an appointment at the consulate. I went to the consulate of Merida’s website to schedule an appointment online and found that were no available spots. I had to make several calls to get the consulate to open up new slots. Then I had to wait two weeks to get the next available appointment. I do not know what would have happened if I did not have a month to wait for the appointment and processing.
Many countries will not allow you to enter their country if you have six months or less duration left before your passport expires. For this reason, I always renew at least eight months before expiration, even if I have no immediate travel plans. (Six months before expiration plus two months for processing).
Some Additional Posts About Passports and Visas
- Tourist Visas: How the US and Canadians Citizens Can Avoid Problems Entering and Staying For a Long-Time in a Foreign CountryHow long do USA and Canadian citizens usually have permission to travel in another country? What can you do if you want to stay longer? What are some other problems that might cause problems when you try to enter another country?
- An Easy Guide to Tourist Visas: What to Do If You Have to Apply In Advance For Tourist VisasApplying for a tourist visa in advance is usually not a big problem unless you need it in a hurry. Here are some tips to avoid potential problems for US and Canadian citizens if they need to get a visa in advance.
- Electronic Travel Authorizations and Tourist Visas: Answers to 3 Typical QuestionsFind out when you will be required to get a visa before traveling to another country. (Most are issued on arrival). Also, learn about electronic travel authorizations.
- Passport 101: Easy Answers to Frequently Asked QuestionsA series of tips about how to apply, replace, or renew your USA or Canadian Passport.
- Airport 101: Avoid Immigration, Customs, Airline Check-In, and Security ProblemsWithout a doubt, one of the most frustrating parts of living as a fifty-plus nomad is dealing with airports. In my five years traveling around the world, I encountered several issues I did not anticipate including finding the right terminal, not having proof of onward passage, and unexpected fees. This post helps you avoid some of my mistakes.