When Should You Renew Your Passport?

Close-Up Of Man Holding Passport
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US passports are valid for 10 years from the date they are issued, so it seems logical to assume that you should renew your passport for two or three months before it expires. But wait times are longer than most travelers are used to due to the ongoing pandemic.

Before March 2020, a standard passport renewal took six to eight weeks to process, while an expedited passport could be turned around in just two weeks. Compare that to the shocking 18-week waits some people were dealing with during Summer 2021. Wait times are shorter now (eight to 11 weeks for a standard passport) but for the least stressful experience, submit your renewal at least four months before you need it to travel.

Expiration Dates Are Critical

If you are considering a vacation abroad, you should be aware that many countries will not allow you to cross their borders—or even board an airplane to fly there—unless your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your intended date of departure. Others, including the 26 European nations that participate in the Schengen Accord, have shorter requirements, mandating that your passport be valid for at least three months past your date of departure. A few countries have a one-month validity requirement, while others have no validity restrictions at all (other than it being valid during your stay, of course). Before your trip, be sure to verify the passport validity requirements of your country, lest you show up at the border and get sent back home. It's a safe rule of thumb to always ensure you have at least six months of validity past your intended departure date from your destination, no matter where you travel.

How Long Does It Take to Get a New Passport?

According to the US Department of State, it typically takes four to six weeks to process an application for a new passport or passport renewal, or two to three if you pay for expedited processing and overnight delivery of your application and new passport. In very specific circumstances, you can even get a passport within a day if you visit a passport center in person; there are 26 regional passport centers and agencies across the country.

The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has delayed the process. Now, the State Department has estimates of eight to 11 weeks to process a passport renewal and five to seven weeks for expedited processing.

Also, processing times vary by time of year. In general, it takes longer to get a passport in the spring and summer. You can find current passport processing time estimates on the State Department's website.

In addition, you will need to allow extra time before your departure date to obtain any necessary travel visas. To apply for a travel visa, you will need to send your passport with your visa application and wait for your visa to be processed.

Renewing Your Passport During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many passport offices across the country closed or operated at reduced capacity for some time. The closures resulted in significant delays which are still impacting renewal times even after passport center operations resumed.

In addition, the State Department is not allowing for walk-in applications at passport agencies and centers. Only travelers with truly urgent travel or a life-or-death situation (i.e., an illness, injury, or death in your immediate family that requires international travel within 72 hours) are allowed to book appointments and the appointment must be made over the phone. If you need to renew your passport for any other reason, you are advised to do so by mail.

Seven to 10 business days after you've applied for a passport renewal, you can check the progress of your application online or via phone (1-877-487-2778).

Given the pandemic-related delays—and the fact that you need at least six months left on your passport to travel to many countries—we suggest that you renew your passport at least six months before its expiration date.

How to Determine Country-By-Country Entry Requirements

If you are planning to travel abroad, check to see if your destination country has specific requirements for passport validity by checking the lists below. These lists are not exhaustive, so we recommend looking at your State Department or Foreign Office's website for up-to-date entry requirements for each country you plan to visit.

Countries Requiring a U.S. Passport Valid for at Least Six Months After Entry/Departure

  • Algeria
  • Angola
  • Austria
  • Bahrain
  • Bolivia
  • Botswana
  • Brunei
  • Cambodia
  • China
  • Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
  • Czech Republic
  • Ecuador (including the Galápagos Islands)
  • Fiji
  • French Polynesia
  • Guyana
  • Honduras
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Israel*
  • Kenya
  • Kiribati
  • Laos
  • Liechtenstein
  • Madagascar
  • Malaysia
  • Micronesia
  • Morocco
  • Mozambique
  • Myanmar
  • Namibia
  • New Caledonia
  • Oman
  • Palau
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Russian Federation
  • Rwanda
  • Saudi Arabia**
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia
  • South Sudan
  • Tanzania
  • Thailand
  • Timor-Leste (East Timor)
  • Turkey
  • Turkmenistan
  • Uganda
  • Venezuela
  • Vietnam
  • Zambia

*It is airlines, not the government of Israel, that enforce the six-month validity rule, according to the U.S. Department of State. Travelers should be aware that they may not be allowed to board their flight to Israel if their passports will expire less than six months from their date of entry into Israel.

** The six-month validity after the travel date is recommended but not required.

Countries Requiring a U.S. Passport Valid for at Least Three Months After Entry/Departure

While Schengen-zone countries in Europe require passports to be valid for three months beyond a stay, some Schengen countries assume that all visitors will stay in the Schengen area for three months and will deny entry to travelers whose passports are not valid for six months beyond their entry date. This may apply to you even if you are merely transiting through a Schengen country.

  • Albania
  • Belgium
  • Denmark (including the Faroe Islands and Greenland)*
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • French Guiana
  • Germany
  • Greece*
  • Hungary*
  • Iceland*
  • Italy*
  • Latvia*
  • Lithuania*
  • Luxembourg*
  • Malta
  • Monaco
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway*
  • Poland*
  • Portugal
  • San Marino*
  • Slovenia*
  • Spain*
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland*
  • Tajikistan
  • Vatican City (Holy See)*

*The state department recommends having a passport valid for at least six months after your stay.

Countries Requiring a U.S. Passport Valid for at Least One Month After Entry/Departure

  • Hong Kong
  • Macao
  • South Africa
Article Sources
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  1. U.S. Department of State. "Passport Agencies."

  2. US Department of State. "Passport Agencies." Accessed April 4, 2022.

  3. U.S. Department of State. "Israel, The West Bank, and Gaza International Travel Information." Nov. 24, 2020.

  4. U.S. Department of State. "Saudi Arabia International Travel Information." May 1, 2019.

  5. U.S. Department of State. "Denmark International Travel Information." May 21, 2021.