Let's get out of this country
January 19, 2008 2:33 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to renew my passport, which expired about six years ago and is now lost, but the government doesn't seem to believe this situation is possible. Is this process the same as replacing/renewing a still-valid lost passport?

Last night my boyfriend surprised me with a proposal and invited me on a celebratory trip to Scotland (yay! and yay!). I said yes to both. Now I need to renew my long-expired passport and have realized that it is lost. I looked at the forms online and the related government websites, and all references to replacing lost or stolen passports seem to mean lost or stolen valid passports. I'm assuming that the process is the same for my case (apply in person, bring a copy of my birth certificate in addition to other ID), but can't find confirmation online. Also, my previous passport was issued when I was about 12, if that matters.

I know I can call on Tuesday when the government offices reopen, but I'd like to know what to expect beforehand (and also, the sooner I know, the sooner I can stop worrying about the passport and start planning the trip!). Any personal experiences with this situation or similar situations would be much appreciated! (As would Scotland-related travel tips, but then that's probably another question for another day.)
posted by Meg_Murry to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Why not just apply for a new one? Forget the old one, and start from scratch.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 2:35 PM on January 19, 2008

I think you have to apply for a new one. You can always talk to someone in your senator's or congressperson's office if you have trouble with or questions about a federal agency.

However, I would suggest getting a new passport.
posted by sondrialiac at 2:40 PM on January 19, 2008

It'll be the same as applying for a new one.

"You’ll need to apply in person if you are applying for a U.S. passport for the first time: if your expired U.S. passport is not in your possession; if your previous U.S. passport has expired and was issued more than 15 years ago; if your previous U.S. passport was issued when you were under age 16; or if your currently valid U.S. passport has been lost or stolen."

-- US Department of State
posted by roomwithaview at 2:56 PM on January 19, 2008

I looked into this last summer when I thought I'd lost my passport and wasn't sure if it was still valid. I eventually found mine so I never went through the process, but I'm pretty sure you can't just "apply for a new one" as if you had never had one. I wrote a blog post with links to all the good passport resources I found online here. Good luck and congratulations!
posted by cali at 2:57 PM on January 19, 2008

I actually had to go through something similar to this a couple of weeks ago. My mom surprised me with a trip to visit her in South Africa.. but my passport is both expired (I got it when I was a boy - 12 or 13) and lost. Oops.

So, I did a little research online, looking at the various options for either renewing an expired passport or getting a new one and so on and so forth and I determined that if I wanted to renew my expired one, I would actually have to have it, and mail it in with my paperwork. Since it was lost, this was obviously not an option, so I decided just to apply for a new one.

I knew I would need my birth certificate, which I did not have, so I poked around on the internet and found a website that had some kind of relationship with my local state government... it was called.. like.. vitalsomethingsomething.com... useful, I know.. and I can't even remember how I found it, except I think by blundering through some .gov website - and I put in some information and paid an arm and a leg and the next day they express mailed me a duplicate copy of my birth certificate with the guarantee that it was usable for passport application.

I also went to CVS and got passport photos. I didn't know you could do that at the corner pharmacy now.

The day after that I went to the post office and applied for a passport. I explained that I had an old one which was both expired and lost, and the guy didn't seem to give a shit. He just handed me a form for application. And on there, there was a place for information about an old passport - when it was issued, was it lost or stolen or damaged or expired, what the old passport number was... etc.. I estimated the date when it was issued, because I didn't really remember, and I marked that it was lost and expired, and then where it wanted the number I wrote, seriously, "I don't know." Then I paid my money and handed him my birth certificate (which he inspected closely for a moment - I thought he wasn't going to take it for a second) and my photos, and filled out some paperwork, and two weeks later I had my passport.

This was fairly recently, so I think I have most of the details right. I hope his helps. Feel free to e-mail me (in profile) if you have specific questions.

The end.
posted by kbanas at 2:58 PM on January 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

I lost my valid U.S. passport in France, on a national holiday, and had to cry my way into the US embassy and a closed photography studio (this was decades ago) when the entire damn staff was watching the parade because my non-refundable charter flight was the next day and I had no money or credit card to pay for a new one.

So yeah, you can renew a lost but valid passport. (aside-- the picture in the new passport is priceless, because I was crying hysterically and the photographer captured my despair and panic perfectly.)
posted by nax at 3:24 PM on January 19, 2008 [2 favorites]

on preview-- to get a valid birth certificate, contact the county clerk in the county where you were born. The only poking around on the internet you need to do is to find the phone number of the county.
posted by nax at 3:26 PM on January 19, 2008

I knew I would need my birth certificate, which I did not have, so I poked around on the internet and found a website that had some kind of relationship with my local state government... it was called.. like.. vitalsomethingsomething.com... useful, I know.. and I can't even remember how I found it, except I think by blundering through some .gov website

probably VitalCheck
posted by vacapinta at 3:43 PM on January 19, 2008

I had basically the same situation. I had a photocopy of the inside of my old passport which I brought along when I applied. The woman at the desk suggested it might be a good idea to fill out a "lost/stolen passport" form anyway, since I did have a passport previously issued but didn't have it in my physical possession. Other than that, I didn't have any problems getting it.
posted by Godbert at 3:47 PM on January 19, 2008

I had a similar situation. I had heard about the ridiculous amount of time that it takes to get a new (or new version of an ancient) passport. So, I gathered my documentation, girded up my loins, and headed to the local post office.

I did not pay the extra green for the expedited passport service. I figured that if it took six months (which was the long estimate I'd heard), I could wait. I wasn't in a hurry.

I applied on a Thursday. Two weeks and a day later, there was my new passport. Again, I didn't pay for expedited service. Your mileage may vary, but you might have an astonishing bit of luck like I did.

I applied in San Francisco. Including running around for photos, it took 40 minutes. I can't believe how little time it took.
posted by phoebus at 11:23 PM on January 19, 2008

Birth certificates may also be gathered from the State of birth, rather than county. Perhaps it varies by state. For Michigan, I needed to go through Lansing, to obtain the certified copy.

Oh boy, I get to renew mine this year, from abroad.
posted by Goofyy at 7:02 AM on January 20, 2008

I went through this exact same situation (and had to expedite it in order to get a visa).

Go to the post office on Tuesday. It will probably be faster and easier than calling the passport office. I'm almost certain you will need a certified birth certificate, so you may want to go ahead and go turn in the stuff to get one so you can have that ready. I got mine the same day, but then again, I was live in the city where I was born, which is the county seat and state capital, so your mileage will almost certainly vary on that one.

The post office clerk knew what forms I needed and basically just gave me what I needed. They were very helpful.
posted by fructose at 8:56 AM on January 20, 2008

Just as a note, I don't know when Phoebus got their passport, but now you can expect 6-8 weeks for real on a passport unless expedited. It took that long for my sister to get hers recently. Now that you need one for air travel to Mexico (and Canada?), and will need one for all travel to Mexico soon, a lot more people are getting them.
posted by fructose at 8:58 AM on January 20, 2008

I got my passport this past November, and it took two weeks. I really think the processing time varies. (Also, there were eight other people in the office when I applied for mine, so I don't think it was a low traffic area.)
posted by Monday at 5:20 PM on January 20, 2008

Oh- that was for a new, un-expedited passport.
posted by Monday at 5:22 PM on January 20, 2008

You don't say when the cool trip is going to happen, but in case it is soon.

You can also always "upgrade" to expedited service if it looks like your passport isn't going to make it. You can do this by calling. I had to do this when it was 10 weeks after I had mailed in my paperwork and still no passport.

Also, you can get a passport in one day with proof of travel in the next two weeks. You can only do this at a regional passport agency. The list of regional agencies is here.
posted by Mozzie at 11:58 AM on January 21, 2008

« Older Sundry Notes for an Abortive Ethnography of the...   |   I want to save the world... no seriously Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.