10 Easy Steps to Renewing Your Passport

I hate paperwork.

It is not my gift. Or inclination. Or anything I’m remotely good at – it makes my creative brain cry big fat tears. But since I’m back my native Kansas for a few months to renew my passport/visa and raise financial support, I’m getting a lot of paperwork out of the way.

Including passport renewal – because I filled it up. Yup. That’s right. It’s a new one for me too. Anyway, without further ado, my 10 Easy Steps to Renewing your Passport…

1) Fill out a relatively simple form. Note: if you’re getting a passport for the first time, you’ll need a different form. And a bunch of other complicated stuff. Glad I got that over with.

2) Decide if you want a passport card, passport book (regular) or passport book (extra pages). The main difference is you can’t use a passport card to travel internationally. It’s just a third form of ID, basically. If you’re a frequent international travel (like yours truly), it’s a good idea to get a book with extra pages.

3) Obtain passport photo. I’m cheap, so I just took my photo against a white wall in my house. Conveniently, they have a whole page of instructions on how to take your own passport photo. They even help you edit and size it properly on the website. Nifty, huh? You can also get this done in photo booths and such.

4) Print photo on photo paper. Find photo paper. Print sample. Discover you’re out of colored ink. Find extra container of ink. Install in machine. Print photo again. Cut it out and compare to relevant square on application. Realize you sized the photo wrong on your computer. Correct and print photo again. (Moral of the story: being cheap doesn’t always pay off).

5) Staple photo to application per the application’s lengthy instructions. Or try to, before realizing the stapler is out of staples. Find more staples in cabinet. Drop on the floor and break the stick of staples into little pieces. Collect them and put them back in stapler. You’re back in business. Repeat as necessary.

6) Double-check information on form. Realize you’ve put the wrong address in the wrong spot. In my case, my mailing address is not the same as my permanent address. Word to the wise – or fellow travelers.

7) Fill out and print form again. Attach second page of form with the correct address to first page of previously printed copy (the one with the previously mentioned photo).

8) Double-check information on form. Everything is right this time. Hooray! Put in a manila envelope (they prefer if you don’t fold the papers) and address to the passport center address listed on the application instructions. Double-check the address!

9) Include previous passport and passport fees. This is important. They won’t process your application if you don’t pay the piper, so to speak. Note: don’t send cash! They only accept check or money order.

10) Send it off via priority mail. Since you’re mailing sensitive documents, make sure you have a way to track it. Nothing worse than your passport disappearing into the black unknown. 

And now you wait…and wait…and wait. You can pay a bit extra for expedited service, which will get it to you in 2-3 weeks. Otherwise it’s typically a 4-6 week wait.

In the mean time, you can plan your next trip! Happy traveling.

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