If you find yourself in a foreign country and your passport book is about to expire, don't panic. Renewing a US passport abroad is straight forward, much the same way as if you are renewing the passport in the USA. I am going to explain how I renewed my passport from Japan. The idea is the same if you are living in a different country. You would need to search for the US Embassy in your country for the correct mailing address to sent in your application.

First thing you would need to do is go through this checklist to make sure you are qualify to renew your passport by mail. 90% of the time, all applicants are able to, but there are a few who may not qualify. Your passport may be renewed by mail only if:

  • You are currently in Japan and have a mailing address in Japan.
  • Your most recent full validity passport was issued within the last 15 years and when you were age 16 or over.
  • The passport you are submitting is not damaged.

What I tell you? You do qualify. The next step is to fill out form DS-82 online. Follow the prompt and fill out completely. When done, print the form and make sure you sign it or there will be a delay processing your application. The next step is to get yourself a most recent photo of yourself. Don't try to include the same photo as shown in your current passport. I guarantee you they will reject your application and make you take a current photo. In Japan, the Japanese passport photo size(45x35mm) is smaller than the US passport photo size(2"x2"). I would not suggest you go down to one of those self taking photo booth by the train station to get your photo taken. There is a chance your application will be rejected. Instead, grab your digital camera and stand behind a plain white background. Have someone take a close-up shot of your head area. Make sure you include some part of the background on top of your head and include parts of your shoulder. You can crop the rest using a cropping tool I will explain next. Upload the image you have just taken and crop it to the size as specify by using this image cropping tool link provided by the government. After you have successfully cropped your photo, put the image onto a removeable disk and head down to a local photo shop store. Talk to the counter personnel that you want to print this image as is. Do not use the self printing machine. The smallest size it will print is a 4x6. What you want is a 2"x2" print. Since Japan uses metric scale. The size equivalent is 50mm. All you need is one copy.

By now you should have one photo, a completed DS-82 form signed and the application fee which you can view here to see the current passport renewal fee. The Embassy will not accept a check or nor cash if applying by mail. You will need to get an international postal money order from the post office also call Kokusai Yubin Kawase. With that being said, Take your photo, form, and application fee and head down to your local postal. You also will need to jot down the US Embassy address in a piece of paper. Once there at the postal, walk to the line that handles money exchange. Ask the clerk you want to get a Kokusai Yubin Kawase. He/she will give you a form to fill out. When you have completed the form, the clerk than, will hand over the money order and receipt. Go to the postal line counter now and ask for (2) LetterPack 500 envelopes. Fill out one envelope with a 'To:' address to the Embassy. For the other envelope, fill the "To:" address to yourself. This is the envelope your new passport will arrive in once they have process your application. Once you have fill out the LetterPack envelopes, take the DS-82 form, money order, and the other LetterPack envelope that is address to yourself and shove it inside the other Letterpack. You will need to fold the envelope to fit it in. Seal it up and give it to the postal counter. All done. It may take up to one month depending on the work load to receive your new passport. Remember the passport is actually process in the US and not in Japan. The new passport will be sent to the US Embassy in Japan first, than to your house. Good luck.

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