San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Check Passport Expiration Before Traveling

Is your United States passport expired or about to expire? Even if you do not have immediate travel plans, it is a good idea to keep your passport current, especially while living overseas. You never know when an emergency may necessitate travel outside of the country. Although the U.S. Embassy makes every effort to process passports quickly (usually within 10 business days), unforeseen delays may occur, and sometimes additional administrative processing is required.

To facilitate a seamless application process, come to the embassy prepared. Bring your most recent passport, additional photo ID, documentation of any name change (for example, a marriage certificate or certified divorce decree) and two passport photos (two inches by two inches).

If your passport was lost or stolen, you should provide other proof of citizenship such as a birth certificate, naturalization certificate or an earlier passport. It is also important to note that you are required to provide your Social Security number on the passport application, so make sure you have it with you.

Children under 16 must appear in person with both parents and should present any previous passports, an original birth certificate, Consular Report of Birth Abroad or naturalization certificate, and parents’ passports or other proof of ID.

In cases where a parent has sole legal custody of a child, she or he must bring a certified copy of the court order granting sole custody.

The embassy often receives requests for “expedited” processing or emergency passports. Unfortunately, expedited service is not available overseas, as all full-validity passports are printed in the United States and shipped back to the embassy.

Locally printed (commonly referred to as “emergency”) passports are reserved for special circumstances such as medical emergencies, death of a family member or short-term tourists whose passports are stolen. These passports are not issued for routine travel or cases in which Costa Rica residents or long-term visitors have allowed their passports to expire.

Passport fees are $85 for children under 16, $75 for adult renewals of passports issued within the last 15 years and $100 for first-time adult passports, renewals of passports issued more than 15 years ago and replacements of lost or stolen passports. Application forms and additional information, including acceptable supporting documents, are available at

Make sure your passport is valid before you plan your next trip. Check the expiration date now.

This column is submitted by the U.S. Embassy to address frequently asked questions about consular-related matters. Please send inquiries to


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