6 Common Passport Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid
A passport application can seem overwhelming and confusing because of the details and deadlines to track. From required passport documents to passport photo requirements, it’s easy to make a simple mistake during your passport renewal. No one wants to prolong the already lengthy process to receive your new passport. If you’re ready to renew your passport or apply for your first one, learn from these easy mistakes so you can get your passport as quickly as possible.
1. Traveling Six Months from Passport Expiration
Just because your passport is still good doesn’t mean you’re set to travel internationally. Some countries require a passport to stay valid for up to six months after your departure date. If your passport expires sooner, you may face challenges when boarding your plane. Some of the most touristed destinations with the six-month rule include China, Jamaica, Mexico, and Thailand.
2. Late Passport Renewal
As with scheduling appointments at the DMV, you should always plan on passport renewals to take longer than expected. Typically, it takes 6-8 weeks to process and receive a passport replacement, but you should prepare for longer waits. Don’t wait until your current passport expires. You can renew at any time!
If you need your passport renewed within three weeks, you can expedite the renewal process if you
- Schedule an appointment at the local passport agency
- Provide proof of urgent travel plans
- Pay expedited service fees (typically $60)
3. Errors on Passport Application
You can mistakenly submit a passport application with misinformation. Such errors can include typos, misspellings, intentional scribbles, white-out marks, and blank lines. These applications get held in suspension until the mistakes get corrected. If your passport application shows errors, the passport agency will let you know–but you might not receive their notice for 2-3 weeks! Don’t let such a simple mistake delay your passport renewal. Make sure to thoroughly complete your passport application and review your information before you submit it.
4. Providing Insufficient Passport Documents
You can mistakenly provide insufficient or incomplete documents for your passport application or passport renewal. You must also provide these documents with your passport application or renewal:
- Proof of U.S. Citizenship**
- Current Photo ID (i.e., driver’s license)
- Recent Color Photograph
- Appropriate Passport Fees
Before submitting your passport application or arriving for your appointment at a passport agency, ensure your documents are valid, and follow passport guidelines.
5. Missing Passport Photo Requirements
You can mistakenly submit a passport photo that does not meet passport photo requirements. If you provide a passport photo, rather than opting for their on-site passport photo services, you must comply with their standards. Rules for passport photo submissions include some photo basics, required print size and matting, and standard resolution. The guidelines also indicate how you can pose and what you can wear. You should check the photo guidelines before snapping your passport photo to prevent any simple passport mistakes.
6. Wrong Passport Application Method
You can mistakenly request a passport renewal with the incorrect DS Form or file for renewal with the wrong application method.
Renewing your passport by mail is a great convenience. If you meet the following criteria, you may fill-out Form DS-82 to apply or renew your passport:
- Ability to submit your current passport with the application
- Your current passport is undamaged (besides “wear and tear”)
- Your current passport got issued at age 16 or older
- Your current passport got issued within the last 15 years
- Your current passport displays your current name*
*You can also request a passport renewal via mail with a name change IF you include an authorized copy of your legal name change (such as a marriage document) with your passport application.
If this is your attempt to apply for a passport, your passport got lost or stolen, or you do not meet all the criteria for renewing by mail, you must apply for or renew your passport in person. To renew or apply in person, you must:
- Schedule an appointment at your local passport agency
- Fill out Form DS-11 completely
- Present your current photo ID
- Provide proof of U.S. citizenship**
- Pay required passport fees
**Proof of U.S. citizenship is often provided in the form of a birth certificate, which must be the original or a certified version to qualify.