Renewing a Passport? And Getting a Haircut.


How fast does a renewal US passport take?

I sent my U.S. passport in for renewal on Wednesday August 29, with delivery date of 8-31. I received my new passport in the mail exactly two weeks later on Tuesday. The post office told me to expect it 3-5 weeks later.


It was sent for regular processing using a regular Priority Mail envelope from my local post office. The post office even packaged it for me with a flat rate envelope. It was cheap too, at $6.45 to Philadelphia. I suppose I could have showed up at the passport center to hand deliver my request in Philadelphia since I am here now.

I still had a bit more than a year left on the old passport and had no immediate foreign travel plans. But I thought it was prudent to renew it now since most places I have been traveling to require having 6 months at a minimum before a passport expires. If I travel early next year, I would not have enough months of a cushion left. Plus when booking a trip, it is usually six months out already.


When I got the renewed passport, it did not include my expired passport. I was disappointed since I have many country stamps in it. But… it did arrive two weeks or so later. I was very happy to get it back. Last time I renewed, both the new and expired passports were mailed back together.

So if you need a renewal, you might get it back rather quickly right now, depending on which service center you are sending to. I am good until 2026.

I was not too happy with my photo since I was looking up. The guy taking my photo was really tall. Here are the photos from the last 21 years. Do you think I changed a lot? I do look rather young in the one from 1995 below at 40 in comparison. You can now figure out my age from 2016.

pp-photo-951995 photo taken at the Niagara Falls USPS. I got this passport to go to Costa Rica on research. I did not have one before this, only being to Canada, Mexico and Bermuda, where one was not needed at the time. When I moved to Niagara Falls in 1984, all one needed to go to Canada was a regular driver’s license, image below from 2010.

dl-photo-2010Now I have a Nexus card, but an enhanced drivers’ licence works too.  Yes, there is a photo ID on the Nexus card. My hair was down to my waist for that photo, so I look kinda tiny in it. Best to have a shorter haircut.

I like my Driver’s license photo from May, 2010 the best. A new one is set to come in 2018. They must renew every 8 years. I never remember getting a new one after moving to NYS, but must have had one in 2002 that I forgot about.

pp-photo-20072007 taken at Rite Aid, I am full of stars. Nowhere was planned to go, I just needed to renew. I still was not traveling by air due to 911, with my first flight to North Carolina in 2011. The next flight outside the country was to St. Lucia in 2013. It took me a while to get comfortable flying again.

pp-photo-20162016 taken at Rite Aid right after getting my hair chopped off from as long as it is in my blog photo.

Ironically, now my hair is as short as the 2007 photo. I got it cut shorter on Thursday last week. I added these photos because one reader questioned my photo on the blog, thinking it did not look like me. That photo was taken before I went to England and chopped off a foot of hair. I do look rather pale in my blog photo.

Since you would rather see more interesting images than my passport photos through the years, I illustrated this post with photos from Castle Howard in York.

It was the English aristocratic family home of John Howard, made Duke of Norfolk by King Richard III in 1483. Queen Elizabeth II is the first British monarch to descend from John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk. The estate was  preserved as a national treasure for the enjoyment of worldwide visitors. The history is pretty complex, but very fascinating

So do you need to renew your passport? I drove to Pennsylvania on Sunday and am driving back tomorrow. See ya soon.


About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
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22 Responses to Renewing a Passport? And Getting a Haircut.

  1. swo8 says:

    At least they let you smile in your photo. We can’t even show our teeth, let alone smile. I’ve had my passport photo rejected simply because my teeth showed. Grrrr.

    • We are allowed a “natural smile” or neutral expression. I am not sure what the natural smile means, but I have had the same smile in all my photos. That would be too bad getting the photo rejected. I am glad they took mine.

  2. alesiablogs says:

    The passport pics are fun of you!!

  3. Emily Scott says:

    You’re very photogenic. I look awful in my no-smiles-allowed latest photo.

  4. Steve says:

    Good point about your passport. I have just been sorting out visas for our next trip later this year to Burma. As we also went to Burma last February I thought I ought to sort out some new photos as they are meant to be less than six months old! Anyway we took them ourselves and resized them to the appropriate size. At least you get a decent photo that way with no cost.

    • Burma would be a great place to see. The different food, culture and customs I would find interesting. I suppose I could take my own photo like I did for the blog, but at Rite Aid, they make two photos, cut to size all for less than $10. While you wait too. I would have to have a white background at home and set up my studio lights so I did not get dark shadows. Any dark shadow gets the photo rejected.

  5. Renewing early is a very good idea. I had to renew mine to travel to the fling in Toronto. It took two months before I was notified that I had completed the incorrect forms which was just weeks before my travel date. I panicked. The local post office couldn’t schedule me to process the correct paperwork until my date of travel. I had to drive an 1 1/2 hours away to a county courthouse who expedited passports. Of course I had to pay an additional fee and cross my fingers. I got my passport two days before travel date. Not something I want to repeat. As passport photos go, yours are really good. Now that we can’t smile when they take the photos, I look very sullen in mine.

    • Wow, Karin, I would have been frantic at that point. You were very lucky it all came together before you had to travel to Toronto. Next time get an enhanced driver’s license just in case. I have a Nexus card, but in 2018 may get the enhanced license anyway.

  6. Victor Ho says:

    From Jeddah, you hand in your passport and it is also about two weeks. They actually send the old one by diplomatic pouch for renewal in the USA. And yes, two weeks was the turnaround. There are times when the passport office is busy and the wait can be weeks longer. In 2026, do a selfie. They accept digital prints. I have done my own and my family’s passport photo for several cycles now. It’s never a good pic but who can complain?

    • The embassy is usually pretty fast on passport turn around. On my trips, some travelers lost the passport and the embassies had them ready in only a few hours. Plus it was cheap too. I could do my photo myself, but it is less than $10 to get the required two cut to size. Fast, convenient and cheap.

  7. You didn’t change very much in all these years, Donna. And you’re looking great on these photos!
    Since that time when they decided to only accept biometrical photographs in case you want to get a passport, I have to say most people do look like dodgy criminals on these passport photos. Disgruntled criminals, of course.
    Well, I’ll have to renew my identity card early next year and as we have to appear personally and need to fix appointsments at the district office first (it’s a long wait, approx. two months) I intend to start the whole action already in January.

    Thanks for showing your personal photos but also for those of the beautiful Castle Howard in York!

    Have a nice weekend! – Michèle

    • Thank you, Michèle. I have seen passports that folks looked like criminals too. They want us to look natural and allow smiles that are natural looking. I had no idea how long my passport renewal would would take, so was very pleased to get it back so fast.

  8. I can spend hours looking at art and architecture; your photos are just fabulous.

  9. I look awful in my passport photos, Donna, and would never show them. You look great in all of yours. I need to look at the date on mine — thanks for the reminder. P. x

  10. Karen says:

    Donna, all of your ID photos are stunning! You’d be horrified by my driver’s license photos; they always make me look down because of my glasses and I look dreadful. I don’t remember if they allow us to smile or not, all I get is a stern, “Lower your chin,” and the flash goes off. “Next.”

    Wonderful photos of your travels, always a treat. 🙂

    I’m thinking of getting my hair cut this week, if it turns out as well as yours, I’ll be happy.

    • I was told to remove my glasses. Not sure if that is a rule or not. At customs I don’t get asked to remove them and do look much different in glasses. It is funny, but the tall guy told me to look in the lens. By doing that, I look like I am off in space.

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