Eastward left behind the confines of a Fortune 500 company office to explore and experience Asia. He hasn't looked back since.
So, It's Time to Renew Your Passport . . .
Whether your pages are full or your expiration date is nearing, it's finally time to renew your passport. You can do this easily from Thailand and, after confirming your eligibility, you don't even need to set foot in the US Embassy or Consulate! If you meet the requirements, listed here on the US Embassy and Consulate website, you can complete the process by mail in approximately two to three weeks plus mailing time.
Basically, you'll be able to renew your passport by mail if it is reasonably undamaged, has been issued within the past 15 years with 10-year validity, is issued in your current name, and can be physically submitted with your application package.
If you have had a name change and have official documentation (such as a marriage certificate or court decree), you can submit the proof of name change along with your passport and still be considered eligible.
Benefits of Applying for Passport Renewal by Mail
According to th.usembassy.gov and my own personal experience, there are various benefits to applying for your passport renewal by mail. For example, you won't need to make an appointment or travel to the Embassy or Consulate for an interview with an officer. They also claim that the processing time involved in renewing passports by mail is equal to that of applying in person. Considering transportation fees, traffic, and the opportunity cost involved with waiting times and appointments, completing the application by mail should save you some time and money (and be less stressful to boot).
I'm Eligible to Apply by Mail . . . Now What?
After reading through the th.usembassy.gov website information to make sure you are eligible, download the procedure outline brochure available here.
The brochure (and this article) will continue to guide you through your application process. The next thing you need to do is complete the DS-82 Passport Application Form here. The form can be completed online and printed. Please note that your signature should be same as the signature used in your current passport.
Your New Passport Photo
As th.usembassy.gov states, you'll need to include a 2 x 2 inch (or 51 x 51 millimeter) passport photo with your application package. The photo should be recent (i.e. taken within the past six months). It should also be a clear photo that doesn't use any filters. If you wear eyeglasses, remove them for your photo. The photo must be taken by someone else, preferably a professional. Selfies aren't allowed! Finally, the background for your photo should be white or off-white. More detailed information about the photo requirements is available here.
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Photographs are required for everything in Thailand from visas to work permits to proof of marriage. This makes it easy to find photo shops that know exactly what you need, especially in central Bangkok. A photo session should cost in the area of 250 baht. If you'd prefer to have attire that is more formal than what you're wearing Photoshopped on afterward, most shops will do this as well (as some immigration officers require a suit coat for visa photos).
Preparing the Bank Drafts and Fees
As th.usembassy.gov notes, bank drafts are the only forms of payment that are accepted. You'll need two bank drafts (also explained in the how-to brochure)—one for the Passport Application Fee and one for the Return Envelope Fee. Please check here for the current fees.
Any main Bangkok Bank, Kasikorn Bank, or Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) should be able to prepare the Thai bath bank drafts for you. Although, for ease of communication in English and staff that is experienced with the process, it's best to visit a branch in central Bangkok.
Checking Your Documents and Mailing Your Package
Make sure you have your DS-82 Passport Application Form completed in English, your current US passport (checked so it meets the eligibility requirements), and your two bank drafts for the "Passport Application Fee" and "Return Envelope Fee".
Double-check that you have everything in order by completing the checklist provided by th.usembassy.gov available here. Include the completed checklist with your application package before mailing it to the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate nearest you (please refer to the appropriate address at the bottom of the checklist).
You may opt to use Thailand Post, DHL, UPS, or FedEx to courier your package. I was informed that DHL has two different systems, one of which scans packages and will not allow bank drafts. As this was the case with the first DHL branch I visited, I moved on to a Thailand Post service branch (which worked great for me).
With all these steps completed, you should be well-prepared to receive your new passport by mail two to three weeks from the date it is received by your embassy or consulate. As always, I'd be happy to hear from you and answer any questions about my experience with the passport renewal process. Additionally, you may explore further resources available from the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Thailand:
- Website: th.usembassy.gov
- Telephone: +66-2-205-4000
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Eastward