Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Passport Renewal

Renewing your Passport in the Modern Era:

The best way to renew your passport is to package your application, photos, old passport, and money into one of the large (soft) Express Mail envelopes. Include a self-addressed smaller cardboard Express Mail envelope with a $14.40 Express Mail stamp already on it for State to use to return your new (and old) passports. Ship it all off. Wait one week normally. Two weeks in this Spring of our discontent.

Print/Bookmark the following page from the website:

How to apply for a Passport Renewal
Application for Passport by Mail: DS-82

Form: Application for US Passport by Mail (revised)

Helpful Hit for Mailing Your DS-82

How to Get Your Passport in a Hurry

Old Application for Passport by Mail (to compare and highlight the enhanced privacy violations of the new one).
Get two passport photos.


$67 Renewal
$60 Expedited Service Fee

Postal Money Order for $127.00 (Pay to "U.S. Department of State")

$14.40 x 2 = $28.80 Express Mail Two Ways

circa $155.80

Mail to:

National Passport Processing
Post Office Box 13349
Philadelphia, PA 19101-3349

As for the application itself... State has been playing games with the form. They have added additional info requests and reduced the number of responses that they officially label 'optional'. As always since 1988, they want your SS# and say the law requires that you provide it. But no one has ever been fined for failure to do so. Pure bluff.

Compare the current DS-82 with previous application (above). On that form, the following categories were marked optional:

Travel Plans
Length of Stay
Emergency Contact ("If you wish...")

It was one page instead of two and it cost $40.

You can probably leave the above items off if you want (as well as "Employer"). I know many applicants who have declined to supply SS# 's since 1988 (one in 2007) and no one has been refused a passport or been fined. We've been putting a Post-it Note on the form covering the SS# with the label "This Space Intentionally Left Blank".

The slick drafters of the Privacy Act Statement finessed the issue of what info is mandatory as follows:
CONSEQUENCES OF FAILURE TO PROVIDE INFORMATION With the exception of your Social Security Number (see Federal Tax Law statement on Instruction Page 3), you are not legally required to provide the information requested on this form. However, failure to do so may result in Passport Services' refusal to accept your application or result in the denial of a U.S. passport.
You're supposed to guess what's mandatory and what's not.

In any case, using this system we recently received a new passport in a week and a day. Essentially the same delay as a year ago before the current surge in applications.