Should I Keep or Get Rid of My Old Passport – So you’re sending in your application for a passport renewal, and are wondering if you should keep or get rid of your old passport.

While it is recommended that you destroy/dispose of expired driver’s licenses and other forms of ID, the U.S. State Department recommends that U.S. citizens keep their old passports in a secure place, since they are considered proof of U.S. citizenship. 

But there’s more. Let me show you.

Should I Keep or Get Rid of My Old Passport?

What If My Passport Expires, But Is Linked to a Valid Visa?

If an expired passport is linked to a valid visa, the visa remains valid. You are required to travel with your new, renewed passport as well as with a valid visa and expired passport. 

When Should Your Passport Be Renewed?

If your passport was issued to you when you were 16 or older, your passport will be valid for 10 years. If you were younger than 16 when it was issued, it will remain valid for five years.  

Do We Need to Keep Old Passports?

There is no official requirement to keep old passports, though it is recommended that you do keep expired passports in a safe place (not with your current passport) for future reference. Though you can’t use it for travel, it is still a useful document. 

What to Do With Old Passports When Someone Dies 

You may choose to keep the passport of a deceased individual for sentimental reasons, or you can choose to return it for cancellation first. If you have the passport canceled and then returned to you, you need to return the passport in question to a Consular Lost and Stolen Passport (CLASP) unit. You’ll need to provide a copy of the deceased individual’s death certificate along with the passport.

Should I Keep Old Passports? 

Though you’re not required to keep an old, expired passport, it is recommended that you do keep it in a secure place for future reference. You can’t use it for traveling anymore, but it can still come in handy.

Can I Throw Away an Old Passport?

If you decide not to keep an old passport, you can dispose of it properly. Passports are made to be very durable and long-lasting and are difficult to destroy, so the best way to dispose of one is to burn it down to ashes. You can also send your passport to the U.S. State Department and request that it be canceled and disposed of properly.

Note that newer passports are made with an RFID chip that holds all of your personal information, and that tampering with the chip is illegal. There you have another good reason to not dispose of your old passport. 

Why Keep an Old Passport?

An old, expired passport can actually come in handy. It can always be used as viable proof of your U.S. citizenship, even after it’s expired. It makes renewing your passport easier and quicker (as you can send in your old one as verification en lieu of your birth certificate). If you’re ever in need of passport renewal and are down to crunch time, you’ll appreciate how much faster the renewal process is with an expired passport.

Your expired passport may be tied to valid visas (some countries allow valid visa transfers from an old passport to a new one). Just be sure to be carrying both your old passport and your new one.

Expired passports are also valid forms of ID when applying for driver’s licenses and verification of the right to work in the U.S. all by themselves. 

And maybe you just like to keep a memento of past vacations and countries visited!

What Should I Do If I Have a Life or Death Emergency in a Foreign Country and Need a Passport? 

Visit the U.S. State Department’s Life-or-Death Emergency page. You may be eligible for an appointment at a State Department passport agency or center. 

If My Address Has Changed Do I Need to Update My Passport?

If your address changes, you only need to report it if your passport application is still being processed. You can call the National Passport Information Center at 1.877.487.2778 to let them know about your updated address. If you’ve already received your passport when you move, you don’t need to update your address information. 

Can I Continue to Use My Passport if it Has Been Damaged?

You can continue to use your passport if it’s only sustained minor damage (normal wear and tear). If your passport has received significant rips and tears, water damage, torn-out pages, hole punches, unofficial markings, etc., you’ll need to apply for a new passport in person, along with the damaged passport, and a completed Form DS-11. 

What Do I Do If I Lose My Passport?

If you should happen to lose your passport or have it stolen, the process of replacing it is much like that of applying for a new one. You’ll need to fill out and submit an extra form (Form DS-64, Statement Regarding a Lost or Stolen Passport). This form will be entered into the U.S. State Department’s Consular Lost or Stolen Passport System to help prevent the fraudulent use of your lost or stolen passport. Call the State Department toll-free at 1-877-487-2778 (TTY 1-888-874-7793) or visit their website if you need assistance. 

So, Should I Keep or Get Rid of My Old Passport?

Even though you can’t use your old passport for travel anymore, doesn’t mean it’s worthless. In fact, it can come in handy at some point. The U.S. State Department recommends that you keep your old, expired passports in a safe location (not with your current passport) for future reference.

If you do decide to dispose of your old passport, you can either burn it completely or send it to the State Department and request it be canceled and disposed of. Note that it is illegal to tamper with the RFID chips featured in newer passports, so you may want to keep your expired passport in a safe place, as is recommended.

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