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  • Can I Keep My Old Passport During Renewal?

    When it comes time to renew a passport, one of the most common questions we hear is “Can I keep my old passport?” The answer is yes – eventually.

    While you do have to submit your old passport as part of the passport renewal process, your old, cancelled passport is usually sent back to you once the renewal goes through.

    Why do I need to submit my old passport during renewal?

    Passport renewals require a host of paperwork, and your old passport is one of the required documents. Your old passport serves as proof of U.S. citizenship, allowing your renewal to be processed much more rapidly than it would be if you didn’t have that existing proof.

    If you’re going for Swift’s expedited passport renewal, the renewal process requires you submit:

    • Your old passport
    • DS-82 Passport renewal application
    • 2 original letters of authorization allowing Swift to submit your renewal documents on your behalf
    • Passport-type photo
    • Proof of departure

    If you are renewing your passport on your own, you wouldn’t need to send it the two letters or authorization unless another third-party was submitting documents on your behalf. You’d need the rest of the documents. And you’d also have to wait a lot longer than our quickest turnaround time of one business day.

    What if my old passport is damaged or unreadable?

    If your old passport is damaged but still readable, you can still submit your old passport as proof of citizenship, as long as you also send along a damage statement form (a typed and signed statement explaining how your passport became damaged). The damage statement requires you provide a detailed explanation of when, where, and how the damage occurred.

    If your old passport is damaged beyond recognition or readability, it most likely won’t be accepted as an adequate form of identification. In that case, you don’t need to send in your old passport, but you have to go through the entire process of obtaining a new passport as if you never had one.

    The process for obtaining a new passport requires a trip to a passport acceptance agent as well as additional documentation. Here you would need to submit:

    • Proof of U.S. citizenship
    • Copy of valid photo ID
    • DS-11 New passport application
    • 2 original letters of authorization allowing Swift to submit your renewal documents on your behalf
    • Passport-type photo
    • Proof of departure

    You can also include a damage statement explaining you previously had a passport issued to you, but it has been damaged beyond recognition.

    Why keep my old passport?

    One last tidbit of info to clear up is why “Can I keep my old passport?” is such a common question. Your old passport is clearly marked “cancelled” and unusable for travel. Yet some folks still want it back, which is not a bad idea at all. Here’s why.

    Back-up identification: Even in its cancelled state, your old passport can serve as proof of U.S. citizenship. You were, after all, able to submit all the required documents to obtain the passport in the first place, so it could still do some good. It could particularly come in handy if your new passport or other forms of identification were lost or stolen.

    Nostalgia: Your new passport will be crisp, clean – and without any visa stamps or other markings that remind you of your trips to Greece, Hong Kong, or other foreign lands to which you and your passport previously traveled.

    You actually liked the photo: A good passport photo is typically hard to come by. If you had a passport where the photo actually looked good, that’s definitely something to hang onto. Heck, it could be a collector’s item!

    Feel free to contact Swift with any additional questions. We’re always happy to help.

    12 thoughts on “Can I Keep My Old Passport During Renewal?”

    1. Regarding proof of departure: what if you are renewing your passport but do not have an upcoming departure for out of the country?

    2. The govt kept our child’s old passport when giving a new one. Is it possible to get it back?The old passport number was referenced in another travel document, and that document is becoming invalid.

      1. Greetings… if the government kept the passport, there was a reason for it. You would have to contact the passport agency to attempt to retrieve the number.

      1. Greetings… good question! When you submit your passport renewal application, you have to send in the current passport, even if it has not yet expired. The Passport Agency uses it to verify that it is in your possession and also they void that book and a new one is issued. Typically, they send back the expired/ing passport with the new one.

    3. I am getting a new passport for my 17-year-old. Because she was under 16 when the old one was issued it appears to be processed as a new passport, not a renewal. Do we have to submit her old passport? There are long processing delays, and we may need to travel before the new passport arrives.

    4. I often travel for work. I work in media and frequently travel internationally. I don’t have a trip currently booked, but they often come up on short notice. If I need to send in my current passport and will be without it for 2-3 months, (the processing time stated on the State Dept website), it may prevent me from traveling for work, which is obviously a problem. Is there any way to have it processed faster or to keep my current passport through the process?

      1. Greetings! Here is a link to Swift’s Passport Renewal Instructions. Currently, there is one expedited option that we can offer which is 4-6 week turnaround. If you would prefer to renew by mail given that we do not have our super fast services available at this time, you can read more about those options on the State Department website.

        The Passport Agencies are still allowing a limited number of in-person appointments. Most of these appointments are given to people who have life or death emergencies abroad. A limited number of appointments are available to Americans who are traveling internationally in the next 72 hours as well, but many restrictions apply. While we have heard of some people having success applying in person without an emergency, most people have not had much luck being able to secure an appointment. You will want to direct your questions about this service to the State Department.

        Hope this helps!

    5. Hello! I appreciate your advice. I am also trying to replace my passport within the next four to six weeks, if possible. I’m unsure if my passport is considered damaged, but one way or another I want to be sure I am able to hold onto it. I also often have trips come up late notice, and would like to be able to travel within the next two months, as I am seeking to establish residency in Perú, and have been back and forth to see loved ones and work on projects there this year. Thanks so much.

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