Home Travel Mistakes To Avoid When Applying For Or Renewing Your Passport

Mistakes To Avoid When Applying For Or Renewing Your Passport

by SharonKurheg

Millions of U.S. citizens cheered when the U.S. State Department announced they were going to re-start processing passports last June, after the process had been shut down since March (thanks, COVID). At the time, they had roughly 200,000 backlogged new and renewed passports to process, but after many months they eventually caught up.

Expedited service was re-instated in September, and emergency 72-hour service became available in October.

As of this writing, as per the State Department’s website, you can now apply for routine service and usually expect to receive a passport in 10-12 weeks. You also have the option of paying an additional $60 for expedited service to receive your passport within 4-6 weeks.

However if you make one of these common mistakes, the time it takes to process could take significantly longer:

Waiting Too Long

Yes, they say 10-12 weeks or 4-6 if you pay for expedited service. But we’re still dealing with COVID, the speed (or lack thereof) of the U.S. Postal Service, and whatever else may get in the way of your passport getting to you in time. Don’t wait until the last minute, and give yourself PLENTY of extra time on top of those 10-12 or 4-6 weeks when applying or renewing your passport.

Not Following The Rules For Your Passport Photo

The rules for what can and cannot be done in a passport photo are very strict. If you don’t follow all the rules, chances are good your passport photo will be rejected and you’ll have to re-submit.

But whatever you do, don’t get your passport photo here. 😉

Careful With Your Signature

Your signature on your passport is, to coin a phrase, “a big deal.” Use your full signature, with your first and last name. Your application will be rejected if you use initials, a computer generated signature or if there are extra marks on the signature line. If you’re renewing your passport and your signature has significantly changed over the years (or if you aren’t able to sign your name the way you used to, say, due to illness, injury, etc.), you may want to send proof of your “new” signature (send a copy of it that’s on another official document), along with a signed note of explanation.

Being Cheap On Shipping

Your passport is one of the most important documents you can have. Don’t skimp on how you mail it. Make sure you pay for tracking so you know where your application and passport are.

Overpaying For Third Party Services

The State Department’s website is simple enough to figure out so you should be able to apply to get your passport as a “Do It Yourself” project. Some people just don’t want to be bothered or would rather have someone hold their hand, make sure everything is OK, etc. That’s all well and good but do some research before you spend a few hundred dollars for someone else to do your work for you. There are plenty of third party services who will help you get your passport for just a few dozen dollars. Just make sure they’re reputable before you decide to use them.

Do You Need A Passport Card?

This one isn’t really a mistake or not, as much as a personal decision. Some people prefer to get passport cards, some don’t. Just know the option is there (for a price, of course) when you apply for, or renew your passport. This post might help you decide if you need one or not.

Feature Photo: pxhere

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Jim F. February 24, 2021 - 4:33 pm

Just want to clarify a point about signatures…if one uses the initial of their “middle” name (along with full first and surnames), is that OK?

SharonKurheg February 24, 2021 - 4:54 pm

When I get my new passport, I use my first, middle and last name each time. But that’s just me. I don’t know if just using your middle initial is OK or not, but it should be somewhere on the State Dep’t passport page, or on the application itself. If not, I guess you could always call and ask?


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