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What's the damage?
August 15, 2011 7:40 PM   Subscribe

I am fixing to renew my US passport, and want to know if I should mail it in, or if I have to renew it in person. I'm concerned about what level of damage is unacceptable to the U.S. State Department.

Per this page, in order to renew by mail, the passport has to be undamaged.

My passport has all pages intact and readable, and it has the cover intact as well. None of the pages are ripped at all. The only damage the passport has is the gold "paint" on the front has rubbed off, and the edges of the passport are worn.

If it were a comic book, it would be in "fair" condition.

So, given that, should I take my chances mailing it in, or just suck it up and wait in line at the local passport renewal location?
posted by baniak to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total)
 
Sounds like normal wear and tear to me. I'd mail it in if I were you.

My old passport got water damaged and I was worried the wrinkled paper beneath the plastic coating of the data page would make them upset but they had no trouble accepting it.
posted by birdherder at 7:45 PM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


That doesn't qualify as damage in my mind. You should be totally fine. As said, normal wear and tear. Everyone's gold lettering rubs off.
posted by fso at 7:47 PM on August 15, 2011


I have two expired passports with the paint rubbed off. I mailed them in (and got them back, along with the new passport) without trouble.
posted by rtha at 8:28 PM on August 15, 2011


While I think it would be fine to mail, if you do decide to do it in person you should go to 50 W Washington (Daley Plaza behind the baboon). There was no line, everyone was really friendly, and even though I was missing a piece of information, I was able to apply for my passport without any problems. The woman I was talking to made a call for me and double checked. At the Post Office I would have just been told to get lost and try again later. So definitely swing by there if you're going to be in the Loop.
posted by phunniemee at 9:11 PM on August 15, 2011


You're fine, mail it in.

The guy who came in with the plastic baggie filled with a large wad of tiny bits of passport? Not fine.

My day job is accepting passport applications but I don't work for the State Department, so this answer cannot be construed as the final word on the matter, or even correct as it's their say in the end. But if I were on the job instead of on the Internets, I'd tell you to mail it in.
posted by carsonb at 9:41 PM on August 15, 2011


Anyway, I'm sure if you called the State Department they'd be happy to tell you one way or another: 1-877-487-2778
posted by carsonb at 9:42 PM on August 15, 2011


Oh, and I just realized that the missing "piece of information" I spoke of earlier was, in fact, a passport itself. I HAD a passport, but it was expired and I got it before I was 16, so I was applying for a new one rather than a renewal. Technically, you're supposed to give them your old passport when you do this. My old passport (while intact and not damaged at all) is sitting in a box at my parents' house in Georgia. The phone call the county worker made for me was to the State Department to get permission for my application not to get dinged for not having the old passport included. And everyone lived happily ever after. So, if you'd rather not turn it in, it seems that it's OK (sometimes, and only when you have permission) to not include the old passport with your application.
posted by phunniemee at 9:50 PM on August 15, 2011


I mailed in a passport that had been damaged with nasty-smelling flame suppressing foam -- the kind they use on burning airplanes. It was renewed and I got the old one back.
posted by gingerbeer at 6:51 AM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


phunniemee, I may have to just swing by 50 W Washington. I'm in the loop during the days, and if it's as painless as you suggest, might be the best way to go about this. I just hate bureaucracy, and if I can deal with it by mail, I will generally take that option.
posted by baniak at 12:48 PM on August 16, 2011


baniak, I really hope it'll be just as easy for you as it was for me. I couldn't believe it--seriously, I spent the next week telling all of my friends and family how easy it was getting it done at a county office. They probably all think I'm a little nutty, but whatever. The employees were all just so nice and helpful. (Make sure you take a cashier's check or money order to pay for it, though; they don't take cards or personal checks.)
posted by phunniemee at 1:25 PM on August 16, 2011


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