Last Updated on May 10, 2022 by Allard John Keeley
Did you know that U.S. Citizens living in Canada are the only Americans abroad who can renew their U.S. passport by mail? If you are an American living abroad in any other country aside from Canada, you have to go to your consulate to renew, no matter what.
Remember, that as a U.S. citizen living abroad in Canada, you have to use your U.S. Passport to enter and to leave the U.S. You CANNOT use your Canadian or other passport (if you have dual nationality/citizenship) to enter or leave the U.S. So, it’s just common sense to always have your U.S. Passport valid.
Key Definitions you need to know:
U.S. Passport book vs U.S. passport Card: A U.S. Passport book is your standard passport booklet. It allows you to travel anywhere in the world that U.S. citizens have the right to travel to.
A U.S. Passport Card is a smaller card that only allows you to travel by land or sea to the following places: Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. You CANNOT use your U.S. passport card to travel by air.
Passport through descent: Also called a first U.S. Passport, it has to be applied for in person at a U.S. consulate or embassy or acceptance facility in the U.S. If you are a U.S. citizen at birth and were not previously aware of this, you need to apply for your U.S. passport by descent. Go here to see our tutorial on Passports through descent.
Renew your U.S. Passport from Canada
The requirements to renew your U.S. passport by mail from Canada are:
- To take advantage of this option, ALL of the following must be true:
- Your most recent passport can be sent with your application. In other words, it is not lost or stolen, and you have it in your possession.
- Your most recent passport is not damaged. This does not mean normal “wear and tear” but rather means things like missing pages, water damage or other clearly visible damage.
- You were 16 or older when your most recent passport was issued. In other words, on the date your most recent passport was issued you were at least 16 years old.
- Your most recent passport was issued within the last 15 years. In other words, the date of issue cannot be more than 15 years prior to the date you apply.
- Your most recent passport was issued under your current name, OR
- If your name has changed since your most recent passport was issued, you must have official, legal change-of-name documents:
- Marriage certificate
- Divorce decree
- Court order
Tip: It’s always good to know how to track your passport application online after it’s been submitted, so you can react quickly to any problems or delays.
Tip: Click here for up-to-date US passport timelines
You must renew your U.S. passport in person at the nearest U.S. consulate in Canada if:
- You’re a minor under the age of 16 (no exceptions).
- You’re correcting an error on your passport.
- You’re replacing a lost or stolen passport.
- You’re requesting a name change, but you CANNOT provide acceptable documentation.
- You’re applying for your first U.S. passport.
- Your previous U.S. passport was issued when you were younger than 16.
- Your previous U.S. passport was issued more than 15 years ago.
Directory: U.S. consulates and embassies in Canada that accept U.S. passport applications:
- S. Consulate General in Toronto
- S. Embassy in Ottawa
- S. Consulate General in Vancouver
- S. Consulate General in Calgary
- S. Consulate General in Montreal
- S. Consulate General in Quebec
- S. Consulate General in Halifax
- S. Consulate in Winnipeg
U.S. Passport Book and Card Fees are (Passport Fees Chart_TSG_JAN2021):
- The cost of a U.S. passport book renewal from Canada for an adult: US$ 110
- The cost of a U.S. passport book renewal from Canada for a child: US$ 115 ($80 + $35)
- The cost of a U.S. passport card renewal from Canada for an adult: US$ 30
- The cost of a U.S. passport card renewal from Canada for a child: US$ 50 ($15 + $35)
- The cost of a U.S. passport by descent from Canada for adult: US$ 145 ($110 + $35)
- The cost of a U.S. passport by descent from Canada for child: US$ 115 ($80 + $35)
- (optional) Immigroup can help you get your U.S. Passport, click here for full-service charges.
Tip: Get the U.S. Passport book and card, having an extra document is always a good idea.
Our Index just below links you to each of these issues. Pick the issue you want to solve and click the link for an easy-to-follow detailed guide on renewing your U.S. Passport:
IMPORTANT! Do you have to apply in person at your consulate? In our Changing your Name on your U.S. Passport tutorial linked right above, you’ll also find a concise guide for applying in person at your local consulate, using Form DS-11. So, if you need to know how to apply in person at your consulate, head to our Changing your Name tutorial and scroll two-thirds of the way down the page.
TIP: Want to make sure your photo is valid? In our Renew your U.S. Passport by Mail from Canada tutorial, you’ll find the specs for a U.S. Passport Photo in Step 4, about halfway down the page.
Do-it-yourself U.S. passport application steps
If all of the above is true and you are therefore eligible to apply by mail from Canada, then fill out Form DS-82 which you can find here at this government page. Scroll down until you see the following:
FORM FILLER LINK: DO NOT FORGET TO DO THIS QUICK STEP – IT’S MANDATORY: When you click on the Form Filler link, here’s what you should see:
Click on the link; read the privacy statement; tick the box saying you’ve read the thing; click on the Submit button. As they say in the highlighted text, this is obligatory. So, take 15 seconds and just get it done already. Then you’ll be taken to the next page and hit ‘submit’.
You’ll then be taken to the Form Filler page. READ THE FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY:
- Form Filler is NOT an online application. It is a form you fill in electronically (on your computer) and then print in paper form and mail to the correct address. However, instead of using Form Filler, you can instead click on the PDF link to download and print your form and fill it out in black ink with a pen.
- Each form filled out with Form Filler will have a unique barcode page. DO NOT copy and paste identical information from one Form Filler form to another. Fill in the data all over again for each form, for example, for different family members.
- If you make an error or leave a field (box) blank by mistake, start over again and complete a new form.
- For forms DS-82 & DS-5504 which you sign and date and then submit by mail, use the date on which you completed the form using Form Filler.
- For form DS-11 DO NOT sign it until told to do so by an authorizing agent at your local consulate or passport acceptance facility (if in the U.S.).
Please note: Form filler helps you electronically fill out your data and then you print the form. It is NOT an online application form. Once you print the form, the data is NOT saved. Here’s the other part of the same page where you fill in your personal information before being taken to the form:
Fill in your personal information, and then click Next to be taken to the form and to begin filling it in. Remember, this is NOT an online application. Fill it in electronically (on your computer) and then print the form.
PLEASE REMEMBER: you can instead click the PDF button for the form to download and then print the form and then fill it in using a pen with black ink.
Downloading/Printing form DS-82 + Mailing Addresses + Processing Times
The form has two parts: 4 pages of instructions, and 2 pages comprising the actual form you’ll print and fill out. Please take your time to read the instructions. There’s some helpful information:
After listing the eligibility conditions yet again and requesting you to tick the boxes off either Yes or No (they really, really don’t want ineligible people filling out form DS-82 and wasting their time), the instructions then give you 3 mailing addresses – all in the U.S.A. – where you can mail your Passport Renewal Application.
DO NOT send your application to the National Passport Processing Center in Irving Texas If you’re applying from Canada. It will ensure your application will be sent back to you and you’ll have to send it all over again.
Please note: the 1-2 day express service is NOT available for Canadian residents. So, your choice if living in Canada is either:
National Passport Processing Center
PO Box 90155
Philadelphia PA 19190-0155
National Processing Center
PO Box 90955
Philadelphia PA 19190-0955
Please note the obvious fact that the addresses are almost identical, so take 25 seconds and just make sure you’ve got the right PO Box number for the service you’ve chosen. As well, Expedited Service does NOT necessarily mean it’s there in just 1 week, it means that you’ll receive it a little sooner than regular service. So, if you have travel plans in the near future, make sure you’re giving yourself enough time to receive your new passport. As of late November 2021, here are estimated processing times for passport renewals courtesy of the State Department: To check processint times, please click here.
PLEASE NOTE: You’re going to have to add a couple of weeks to processing times to account for time in the mail. In other words, if you have to travel in less than 3 months, you really should either choose expedited processing or even go to your nearest consulate.
What do I include in my application package?
Let’s continue with the instruction pages of form DS-82.
Here’s what you’ll need to include (along with your completed form DS-82) in your passport renewal application:
- Your most recent passport and/or passport card.
- Your traditional passport is officially called a passport book and is valid for international travel whether by air, sea, or land.
- A passport card is a card that only lets you enter America by land or sea and NOT by air travel, and only from the following locations:
- The Caribbean
- If your name has changed, include your marriage certificate, court order (divorce) or any other legal document that confirms your name change.
- Your fees in the form of a personal check or money order, drawn on a U.S. Financial institution. Do NOT use a check or money order issued by a Canadian bank or a bank from any other country. It must be a U.S. Financial institution.
- A color photograph taken within the last 6 months, according to the following specifications:
- 2 x 2 inches in overall size
- 1 to 1 3/8 inches from chin to top of head
- High resolution
- No glasses, head coverings, or hats – except for religious or medical reasons in which case a written statement (religious) or doctor’s letter (medical) is required.
- Plain white or off-white background
- Face camera directly with full face in view
- Printed on matte or glossy photo-quality paper
- Neutral expression or natural smile with eyes open
- Attach to your application form with 4 vertical staples – one at each corner
Filling in Form DS-82
You have to print the 2 pages of the actual form on 2 separate sheets of paper. DO NOT print both pages of DS-82 on the same sheet of paper. Here’s page 1 of DS-82.
There are a few things to note:
- At the top of the first page, choose what type of passport you’re applying for – book (standard booklet); card; or both. Don’t forget to fill that out. As well, if you’re a frequent traveler, make sure you choose the Non-Standard large size for your book passport.
- In question 5, fill in your Social Security Number NOT your Canadian SIN.
- Take a minute to make sure the information from your most recent passport in question 10 is accurate. One letter or digit wrong, and you’ll be facing delays.
- You sign and date at the bottom of page 1.
- You’ve even got the specs for your color photograph listed in the space provided.
- Make sure you list for your emergency contact someone who isn’t travelling with you.
- For question 23, remember to write none if you have no travel plans in the near future.
- Use a black pen to fill in form DS-82. If you make a mistake print a new form – DO NOT CORRECT MISTAKES.
And that’s basically all you need to fill out on your DS-82. As far as government forms go, it’s one of the more straightforward ones you’ll have to fill out.
Pay your U.S. Passport Fees
Include your personal check or money order for the correct amount and make sure your check/money order is drawn on a U.S. Financial institution, NOT your Canadian bank. You CANNOT pay online.
YOU CANNOT SEND CASH – only send personal check or money order drawn on a U.S. Financial Institution. A U.S.$-denominated check drawn on a Canadian bank is NOT ACCEPTABLE.
Remember that expedited service (currently 5 to 7 weeks delivery) costs an additional $60.
PLEASE NOTE: You CANNOT use Express Delivery (1 to 2 days) in Canada (ONLY available in the U.S.).
Once again, if you choose Expedited mail, add $60 to your fees. So, as an example, if you are renewing both your passport book and passport card and doing so by expedited mail then your total fees are $200. If, however, you’re only renewing your passport book and doing so by normal mail then your total fees are $110.
Remember to make your check/money order payable to: “U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE”
Do you have everything else?
The great thing about form DS-82 is all you need (as we explained above) along with your printed, completed and signed DS-82 is:
- Your most recent passport and/or passport card
- A check for the correct amount of fees
- A color photograph to specification (see final bullet point in step 4 above)
- You had a name change since your most recent passport was issued in which case, you’ll need to provide a marriage certificate; divorce decree; court order; or other legal document that confirms your change of name.
- Your most recent passport was lost, stolen, or damaged. In that case you’ll have to apply at your local consulate using form DS-11 (see below).
Name Change – Supporting documents
In your application, include the original document or a certified copy of your marriage certificate; divorce decree; or court order documenting your name change.
Lost/Stolen/Damaged Passport – see below.
Mailing in your U.S. Passport Renewal + What to expect in the mail
Remember to review the addresses we gave above in Step 3. The difference between the 2 addresses available for Canadian residents – Routine Service or Expedited Service – is only the 3 final digits in the PO Box number and 3 digits at the end of the Zip Code. That’s the only difference. Get it wrong, and you’re going to be looking at delays. Take 15 seconds, and make sure you’ve got those 3 digits right.
PLEASE NOTE: DO NOT send your application from Canada by courier. Only use Canada Post to send in your application.
PLEASE NOTE: You may receive multiple (up to 3) mailings from the government, after you’ve sent in your renewal application.
Here’s what you get back and how you get it back:
If you’ve applied for either a U.S. Passport book OR card you may get 2 separate mailings. One with your newly issued passport and another mailing with your original documents. So don’t panic if you don’t get your supporting documents (marriage certificate for a name change for example) back with your new passport or vice versa.
If you’ve applied for both a U.S. Passport book AND card you may get 3 separate mailings. One with your newly issued passport book. One with your newly issued passport card, and another with your original documents.
Photocopies of documents will NOT be returned.
Can I enter Canada without a Permanent Resident Card?
Yes, you can, but you’ll need to have what’s called a Permanent Resident Travel Document (PRTD) because you CANNOT apply for a PR card from outside Canada. If you’re stuck outside Canada and your PR card has expired, or it was lost or stolen or is otherwise unavailable, you’re going to have to apply for that Permanent Resident Travel Document which you can apply for from outside of Canada at a Canadian Visa Office abroad.
You’ll have to send a completed IMM 5524 Application for a Permanent Resident Travel Document as well as the following: fee payment acceptable to the Visa Office overseas you’re applying to. Also include 2 photos + your original valid passport; photocopies of ALL the passports you’ve used over the past 5 years; 2 pieces of ID/bills etc. that confirm your residency; and a letter stating that you work abroad, if applicable.
Can I use my Record of Landing document to enter Canada by car, if I don’t have my PR card?
You might be able to. Unfortunately, IRCC does not state explicitly that form IMM 1000 (Record of landing) is acceptable to establish your permanent resident status when returning to Canada by private vehicle. You are linked to this government page. What they say at this page is the following:
Acceptable documents to denote identity and citizenship
Upon arrival at a Canadian port of entry, travellers must satisfy a CBSA border services officer (BSO) that they meet the requirements for entry into Canada. For Canadian citizens, permanent residents and persons registered under the Indian Act, this can be done through questioning and through verifying documentation such as a:
- Canadian passport
- Canadian birth certificate
- permanent residence card
- citizenship card
- Secure Certificate of Indian Status (SCIS) card or valid Certificate of Indian Status (CIS) card
As you can see, most of the bullet list is dedicated to documents that establish your citizenship, with PR Cards as the only listed document to establish permanent resident status. However, they never say that IMM 1000 is not acceptable when re-entering Canada by private vehicle. Remember, it is up to the CSA officer or the BSO officer at the border crossing. If you can apply for a PRTD, that is always a better option.
Can I use my Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) to enter Canada?
Yes, you can but you’ll also need your passport. Additionally, if you are from a visa-exempt country, you won’t need an eTA. If you are from a visa-required country, your visa will be automatically placed in your passport when you receive your COPR. You, however, will also need your passport as well as your COPR document.
Can I hold both a U.S. and Canadian Passport?
Yes, you can hold both American and Canadian citizenship. U.S. law does not require you to choose one nationality or the other. You can naturalize in another country (that is, become a Canadian citizen) and still retain your American citizenship. Canadians are allowed to take up foreign citizenship as well. You would only lose your U.S. citizenship if you voluntarily relinquished it.
However, if you are a U.S. citizen who also holds Canadian citizenship, then make sure your current U.S. passport is valid because you’ll need your U.S. Passport to enter the U.S.
What are the benefits of NEXU.S. for U.S. Passport holders?
NEXU.S. is one of 5 Trusted Traveler programs that speed up entry and border crossing procedures for qualified applicants. For NEXU.S. , the benefits include:
- Expedited entry in vehicle or even as pedestrian into the U.S. or Canada
- Expedited marine entry into the U.S. from Canada
- Access to TSA expedited lanes at airports and border crossings.
Riley Haas has been a leading expert since 2011 on immigration matters, with hundreds of publications online. Published author of three books about political philosophy, the Beatles and the Toronto Maple Leafs, respectively. BA from Bishop’s University, MA from McMaster University. You follow Riley on Substack https://rileyhaas.substack.com.