Renew Your Passports Without Stress

by Nancy Bestor

Bob and I just renewed our passports. We’ll be traveling in late October, and our passports were set to expire in December. Since most countries require visitors to have at least six months remaining on their passport before it expires, we went ahead and took care of it. Here are a few things worth mentioning. For local folks, we had our passport photos taken at Advanced Photo Imaging on Tolman Creek Road in Ashland. Advanced Photo is friendly and quick, and passport photos cost $12 each. Please note, you can smile in your passport photo, but you can’t show your teeth. Huh. Also, no eyeglasses allowed.

We each filled out the simple renewal application, and sent them along with our old passports, our new passport photos, and two checks for $110 each. We opted to get passports with extra pages (for no additional charge) in the hopes that we travel so much that we’ll need more pages for more stamps.

Our new passports, which are good for ten years, arrived in about six weeks. We did get our old passports back too, but they came in separate envelopes, on another day. (Because apparently it would just be too difficult to save money on postage and send them back in the same envelope as the new passports I suppose.)

A few important things worth noting: there are many online companies who can assist (for a fee mind you) in renewing passports. Although some offer “expedited services” if you are in a big hurry, it appears to me that their other services are something any capable person can do on their own, and save the additional costs. The State Department does have expedited services available as well, if there is a life or death emergency abroad, or a passport is needed within 2-3 weeks. There are additional fees for expedited services.

My best advice is that if you have an expired or soon to be expired passport go ahead and renew it ASAP. You never know when someone is going to offer to whisk you away to Paris at a moment’s notice. And it would be a shame if you had to turn that down because your passport was expired.