What Should I Do about an Expired Passport?

An expired passport can often be renewed through the mail or at an embassy.
Every U.S. citizen must have a passport to travel internationally.
A passport.
Passport photos must be occasionally renewed.
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  • Written By: Jerry Morrison
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 13 April 2014
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An expired passport can present a traveler with a number of significant problems. The simplest resolution is to have it renewed, but your current location, travel plans, and how long the passport has been expired are all important factors in dealing with the problem.

With very limited exceptions, there is no international travel allowed with an expired passport. Many countries also require that a traveler's passport be valid for up to six months beyond the date of arrival in that country. If you have international travel plans in the near future, it is important to check the current status of your passport and make sure that it complies with the entry requirements of the destination country. Being denied a boarding pass because of passport restrictions usually means a cancelled vacation or other travel plans.

The amount of bureaucratic interaction, expense, and time involved to complete the renewal will vary from country to country. In the U.S., you can usually renew your passport by mail with an application and supporting documentation. The renewal process may also be initiated by making an appointment at a regional passport agency, an option when a valid passport is needed quickly. If the passport has been expired for a considerable length of time, an application for a new one might be required.


In most countries, an expired passport may continue to be used as internal personal identification. Issuing authorities will typically return an old passport upon renewal, though it will be marked in some way to indicate that it is no longer valid for travel purposes. Should it contain current visas, these may continue to be used in conjunction with a valid passport. Some countries offer expedited processing of applications or renewals for an additional fee, although evidence of a confirmed travel itinerary might be required to secure this service.

If a passport expires while you are abroad, contact your country's embassy or consulate immediately for assistance. Often, embassies or larger consulates have an online presence that can be used to answer questions in emergency situations. It's usually easy to get a renewal or passport extension, though there may be a delay of several days for processing. Some countries will permit the return of its citizens with an expired passport, while others will not. Several countries will also require a valid passport in order to depart.


Discuss this Article

Post 5

Does anyone know if there is an expired passport grace period?

My wife and I just went to pick up some renewal passport forms and realized that our passports expired over a year ago. Do you have to do anything different if you need to get a passport renewed long after it has expired?

We are a bit worried now about how to renew our expired passports, as we have a trip coming up next month. We know that getting an entirely new passport takes a lot longer than just a simple renewal. When I last had a passport renewed it only took a week, but the entirely new passport took me nearly a month back in the day.

Post 4

@animegal - Theoretically you can pretty much renew your passport anytime you want. You just need to pay the fee. When I had to replace an expired passport early I just sent a note saying why I felt I needed it done early and it went through no problem.

As far as expired passport renewal goes in a foreign country, you can generally submit your forms through an American consulate. You just need to check their website and see what you need to bring with you. Usually you can just print forms online and prepare your photos in the country you're visiting. Don't worry about your trip, there is always a way to renew your passport.

Post 3

If you are thinking about renewing an expired passport, when is the earliest you can get a new one?

I am going to be traveling abroad for a year and while my passport is good for the length of time I will be away, it will definitely dip under that six month mark during my trip. Or, if I can't get it renewed at home super early I am open to doing it abroad. On that note, does anyone know how to renew an expired passport abroad?

I would be willing to renew my passport while traveling if I knew it was going to be an easy process. I don't need to worry about travel visas, as I will be traveling exclusively on tourist entry stamps for the countries I visit.

Post 2

@robbie21 - I think you're right that it's just an extra form when you're renewing an expired passport that you've lost, but it might depend on how long ago the passport expired and whether you were a kid or an adult. (I assume you mean in the US.)

Another reason not to throw away an expired passport in the US is that it can be used for identification. You can use it to prove citizenship when you're starting a new job instead of showing your driver's license and Social Security card. I bet in most states it can be used for ID to get a driver's license as well, but I don't know.

Post 1

You should never throw away an expired passport, because when you go to renew your passport, they will want the old one back.

But it is not a crisis if you have lost your expired passport. I think you just have to fill out an extra form. It's more a convenience than anything else.

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