How to renew your American Passport in Thailand

Bummer, your American passport is about to expire, and you have no plans to go back to the States any time soon. Here’s how to quickly renew it while you’re in Thialand (or almost any country outside of the USA).

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Recently I had to renew my American passport, and here’s how to do it in Thailand step by step.

TL;DR— its’ MUCH faster done outside of the USA instead of inside the USA. So if you’re in another country, do it before you return home. This process is only for renewing an existing passport. If your passport is lost or stolen, please contact the US Embassy in Bangkok or Chiang Mai to get a temporary passport.

If your passport is lost or stolen, please use these instructions instead:
https://th.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/passports/replace-lost-stolen-adult-passport/

How long do I have to wait?

People inside the USA have to wait between 8-11 weeks for normal service and 5-7 weeks for “expedited” service. In contrast if you are outside the US, you only have to wait a maximum of 2-3 weeks.

Can I travel inside Thailand without my Passport?

It depends how you are going and what kind of travel. Obviously if you are flying between provinces you cannot, since you need to show a passport to the Airlines. If you are traveling by bus, some government bus lines will need to see your passport. Obviously if you are driving around or taking taxis you can visit anywhere. Needless to say you cannot travel outside of Thailand without your passport.

Will I get back my old passport?

Yes! You old and new passport will be returned to you.

What if I already have a visa inside my passport?

The Immigration department in Thailand has services that will transfer your visa into a new passport. Just take the old passport and the new passport and show them what you need to do. They will transfer your existing visa to the new passport.

Can I physically take my passport to the US Embassy in Bangkok?

No. You have to send it by local mail or courier service.

Is Mail safe in Thailand?

Yes! Mail is very safe in Thailand. Mail services in Thailand are extremely mature. You can get express service, registered mail and a tracking number to see where your package is at any time. If you are going to use Thailand Post, find the nearest post office and the friendly staff will be happy to help you send express mail. They sell envelopes, packaging and of course stamps. So no need to get any of that before going to the post office.

How will I get back my new passport?

The US Embassy in Bangkok will send your old and new passports to your address in Thailand. Ensure that you get your address correctly.  The best way is to get some mail that already comes to you and copy that address. The address can be in English or Thai.

Where do I send my old passport to?

Send it to the Bangkok US Embassy. Do not use the Chiang Mai embassy, since there will be many delays.

How does the process really work?

1. You send your passport to the US Embassy in Bangkok
2. The US Embassy requests a new passport from the passport application center in the USA
3. The passport application center in the USA issues a new passport
4. That passport is mailed back to the US Embassy in Bangkok
5. The US Embassy in Bangkok sends it back to you by Thai Post.

How to renew - step by step.

Step #1 - Check eligibility
Use this link:
https://th.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/passports/renewing-your-u-s-passport-by-mail/

Step #2 - Read the instructions and guidelines
After eligibility, you will be taken to this URL.
https://th.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/passports/instructions-for-ds-82-processing-by-mail-and-online-fee-payment-for-u-s-citizens-residing-in-thailand/

Step #3 - Fill out the forms
Fill out the passport form online, download and print it then sign it. If you do not have a printer, there are tons of print and copy shops in every neighborhood in Thailand. Find one and print a few copies just in case you make a mistake.
https://pptform.state.gov/?Submit2=Complete+Online+%26+Print&AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1

Step #4 - Take photos
Go get some passport photos of 2” x 2” (5 x 5 cm). You can get passport photos at many photo shops in your neighborhood in Bangkok.

Step #5 - Prepare your current passport.
Make sure you have your current passport. You will need to send this with your application. So be prepared to be without a passport for about 2-3 weeks. Make sure you have no pressing travel plans.

Step #6 - Get a Bank Draft
A bank draft is similar to a US money order or cashiers check. You can get at any branch of SCB Bank, Kasikorn Bank or Bangkok Bank. Fill out this form and show it to the bank and they will prepare the draft for you. The form is in Thai and English so the bank personnel can understand it.
https://th.usembassy.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/90/print-bankdraft-request-form-envelopes.pdf

Step #7 - Prepare your package for mailing
You will need to mail the old passport, your DS-82 passport renewal form, and the bank draft to the US Embassy in Bangkok only.

US Embassy Address:
Passport-by-Mail Service
ACS/Consular Section,
U.S. Embassy,
95 Wireless Road,
Bangkok 10330, Thailand

Be sure to use Express Mail or Registered Service, or DHL courier service and get a Tracking Number so you can keep track of your passport.

Step #8 - Tracking your application
The US State Department provides a URL where you can track your passport application. At any time you can see the status of your passport in the renewal cycle:
https://passportstatus.state.gov

Step #9 - Getting back your passport
If everything goes well, you should get your passport back in about 10 business days or up to 3 calendar weeks. I got back mine in just under 2 weeks.

What if my passport is lost in the mail?

If after a few weeks you did not get back your passport, you can email the US embassy to find out more. If it's truly lost you can visit the embassy to get a temporary limited passport. Use this link to read on how to do this:
https://th.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/passports/replace-lost-stolen-adult-passport/

Summary

So there you have it! Renewing your passport is quite easy outside of the USA and actually faster than doing it back in the States. Need help to do this? If so contact Baan Smile we can help you prepare the entire package.

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