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Passports

General Info

What is important to know about passports?

Passports are required for international travel.  This is your most important legal document when you are out of your home country.  Do not travel far and most definitely do not attempt to cross international borders without your passport.   If you already have a passport, check the expiration date.  Your passport must be valid at least six months after the date of return from your study abroad program.  Processing of passports and renewals often take months. It’s best to apply for a new passport or renewal as soon as possible.

Who pays for passport fees?

Typically, Swarthmore students pay directly for all passport application and processing fees.  Passport fees are not eligible for reimbursement by the Global Engagement Office. 

What is "Free Passport Day"?

Swarthmore periodically provides a "Free Passport Day" to provide free passports to participating Swarthmore students.    Under no circumstances, will the Global Engagement Office assume the cost of expedited processing. 

If my current passport expires shortly AFTER an upcoming trip, do I still need to renew it?

Many countries require that your passport be valid at least six months beyond the dates of your trip.

How many blank/remaining pages do I need to have in my passport?

If you have four or fewer pages, you should have additional pages added to your passport. The U.S. State Department website includes details for adding pages to an existing passport.

If I spot an error on my passport, whose responsibility is this to correct?

It is a travelers responsibility to ensure their passport is a valid and accurate.  Discrepancies may lead to you being unable to board a plan or to being detained on arrival in a foreign country.  The U.S. State Department website includes details for correcting or changing passport information.

How long does it take to get a passport?

The processing time for U.S. passports can vary throughout the year based on the volume of applications received.   You can find information on the current processing time online, but as a general reference, should assume a minimum of 8-10 weeks for standard processing. 

Once you have applied, you can subscribe to email updates by U.S. Passport Authority about your application status, and learn more about each status update.  Note: It may take 2 weeks from the day you apply until your application status is “In Process.”  If your passport status update says “Not Available,” your application and supporting documents are still in-transit.

What if my U.S. passport is lost/stolen while outside the country?

For instructions on replacing missing passports while abroad, see the OSAC Guide [pdf] with step by step instructions. 

Applying In-Person

Who needs to apply in-person for a passport?

Are you applying for your first passport?  Was your previous U.S. passport issued when you were under the age of 16?  Was your previous U.S. passport was lost, stolen, or damaged?   Or was your previous U.S. passport issued more than 15 years ago? 

If so, you must apply for a passport in-person, at either a Swarthmore organized event or at an official U.S. State Department Passport site. 

What is required for an in-person passport application?

Detailed instructions are available on the U.S. Department of State's Passport website.   You must submit your completed application, supporting documents, photo, and fees, in person at a passport acceptance facility. It is the applicant's responsibility to check with the facility to see if you need to make an appointment.  If you wish to apply at a post office, you must make an appointment directly on USPS.com.

Can GEO share a list of materials that I will need to apply for a passport in-person?

For the most up-to-date and accurate information, we encourage you to utlilize the passport information provided by the U.S. Department of State.  However, we have created an unofficial (PDF) list of required materials to help streamline this process for members the Swarthmore community. 

Renewing by Mail

Who can renew a passport by mail?

Do you currently have in your possession a passport that was issued when you were 16 years of age or older?  Was it issued within the last 15 years and issued in your current name?   Is your existing passport undamaged (beyond normal wear and tear) and able to be submitted with your other application materials? 

If ALL of the above are true, you are eligible to apply for a passport renewal by mail.   

Can I renew at a passport acceptance facility, even if I am eligible to renew by mail?

No, you cannot renew at a passport acceptance facility.   Even though some post offices are also passport acceptance facilities, postal employees should not review your Form DS-82 renewal application and supporting documents before you mail it. 

Does my passport need to be expired for me to renew it? 

Your passport does not have to be expired for you to renew it.   In fact, it is recommended that you renew your passport well ahead of planned international travel, even if your passport has a few months of validity left on it.  

Will my new passport number be the same as my current passport?

When you receive your new passport, the number on the document will be different from the number on your previous passport. 

What is required to renew your passport by mail?

Detailed instructions are available on the U.S. Department of State's Passport renewal site

Can GEO share a list of materials that I will need to renew my passport by mail?

For the most up-to-date and accurate information, we encourage you to utlilize the passport information provided by the U.S. Department of State.  However, we have created an unofficial (PDF) list of required materials to help streamline this process for members the Swarthmore community.