Here's how and when to renew your passport according to the US State Dept.
Editor's note: This is a recurring story that has been updated with new information.
Even if you're an avid traveler, chances are you might not be completely aware of when your U.S. passport expires and how to renew it.
You also may have heard that during the pandemic, application renewals were suspended for several months, and there was a huge backlog of renewal applications causing delays.
There's good news, though. Renewal times are back to normal, expedited processing is available — and you often can renew your passport easily from the comfort of your home.
Here's everything you need to know about renewing your passport right now.
When should you renew your passport?
The U.S. State Department website has a handy calculator to help you figure out your passport renewal options and cost.
When timing your passport renewal, keep in mind your expiration date, as well as where and when you're traveling. Ideally, you should renew it at least six months before it expires, especially if you have travel coming up to countries that require six months of passport validity.
Regardless of entry requirements, it's always best to renew ahead of time to avoid backlogs during busy travel periods and possible delays like those we experienced during the pandemic.
A U.S. passport is valid for 10 years for most adults or five years if it was issued before the passport holder reached the age of 16.
Standard passport renewal takes six to nine weeks, plus up to two weeks for processing to begin and another two weeks for your passport to be returned to you, so up to 13 weeks total. You can, however, pay $18.32 to have it delivered within 1-2 days of processing.
Related: Passport expiring soon? Visit these countries within your 3-month renewal deadline
You can also pay an extra $60 to expedite your passport renewal, shortening the turnaround time to three to five weeks (plus mailing time). Again, you can tack on an $18.32 expedited shipping fee to move things along more quickly.
If you need your passport even faster, you can choose the in-person Expedited Agency Processing option, which also costs $60 but requires you to prove you have travel plans within the next 72 hours. This option wasn't available during much of the pandemic, but now that things have normalized and travel demand has skyrocketed, it's back.
A very limited number of appointments are available for both emergency and non-emergency travel within 72 hours.
Related: Why you should renew your child's 5-year passport after 4 years
How should you renew your passport?
You can renew your U.S. passport via mail or in person. You will need to fill out Form DS-82 and provide a photo, your most recent passport and a check for the fees. Make sure your photo complies with the specified guidelines.
In-person emergency renewals were restricted to life-and-death emergencies during the pandemic. Now, this option is expanded again to those with travel booked within the next 72 hours.
If you're mailing your renewal application, keep in mind that you have to use the United States Postal Service — no exceptions. If you use another carrier, your renewal package will be returned to you without being processed. If you're mailing your passport renewal application from Canada, you must use Canada Post.
Related: Should you apply for or renew a passport right now? Everything you need to know
How much does it cost?
Renewing your U.S. passport costs $130 for a passport book, $30 for a limited-use passport card or $160 for both the book and a passport card. Note that the fees outlined above for expedited service ($60) and faster mailing ($18.32) are in addition to these renewal fees.
If you need your passport renewed faster than 12 weeks, you can do so in person at a passport agency. This option can take 24-72 hours and is available if you can provide proof of travel within the next 72 hours. You'll typically be required to show proof of upcoming travel and an official document (i.e., doctor's note) verifying the emergency.
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Keep in mind that your passport number will change when you renew it. That means if you're part of a trusted travel program like Global Entry, you'll need to update your passport information. Luckily, you can do this online.
Simply log into your account and click on the "Update Documents" tab to enter your new passport number. The only change you can't make online is a name change, for which you'll have to visit a Global Entry enrollment center.
Read more: How Mobile Passport saved me when a banana foiled my Global Entry dreams
Additional reporting by Caroline Tanner and Melissa Klurman.