Most United States Citizens can renew their passports outside of the United States at any US Embassy, US consulate office or during special visits programmed such as monthly visits to the Lake Chapala area in Jalisco, Mexico.
The US State Department employees working at the Embassies and consulates are usually very helpful and we Americans are fortunate to have this support for our needs when living abroad. My experiences have all been with the US Consulate General in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico so it is possible that you may see some slight variances in policies and procedures in other states or countries. If you have any questions you can call or email your local Consulate / Embassy , they usually have bilingual staff that speaks English as well as the language of the country they are located in.
Here in Jalisco, the US Consulate General is located at Calle Progreso 175, Colonia Americana, Guadalajara, Jalisco 44100. The entrance for American Citizen Services is passing the corner of Progreso on Lopez Cotilla Street, there are 3 entrances, the one on Libertad is for Mexicans requesting Tourist visas, the Progreso entrance is for employees and diplomats and the Lopez Cotilla entrance is for American Citizen Services which includes US passports and notarial services. You will have to tell the guards behind the glass what you are there for and they will direct you to the entry door to the right to pass through security screening.
Here is the entrance you will use:
To renew a full 10 year passport for an adult that was issued within the last 15 years, when the applicant was age 16 or older and their name hasn’t changed (unless the change can be proven with a marriage certificate or divorce decree) you may print online form DS-82. If the aforementioned doesn’t apply, then you will need to fill out the DS-11 form. All children must use form DS-11. All forms may be filled out online here: https://pptform.state.gov/?Submit2=Complete+Online+%26+Print.
It is a good idea not to wait until the last minute to renew your passport as many countries may give you problems if you try to enter on a passport with less than 6 months left until it expires. The Consulate in Guadalajara is flexible about renewals and we have seen people renew 1 or 2 years before expiration without any issues.
To renew your US passport you will need the following:
1) US passport application filled out (best to fill out online, although some Consulates / Embassies will accept applications filled out by hand), form DS-82 or DS-11.
*TIP: On the US Passport application you MUST submit a separate explanatory statement if any of the following applies:
Since acquiring United States citizenship/nationality, been naturalized as a citizen of a foreign state; taken an oath or made an affirmation or other formal declaration of allegiance to a foreign state; entered or served in the armed forces of a foreign state; accepted or performed the duties of any office, post, or employment under the government of a foreign state or political subdivision thereof; made a formal renunciation of nationality either in the United States, or before a diplomatic or consular officer of the United States in a foreign state; or been convicted by a court or court martial of competent jurisdiction of committing any act of treason against, or attempting by force to overthrow, or bearing arms against the United States, or conspiring to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force, the government of the United States.
Been convicted of a federal or state drug offense or convicted of a “sex tourism” crime, and not the subject of an outstanding federal, state, or local warrant of arrest for a felony; a criminal court order forbidding my departure from the United States; or a subpoena received from the United States in a matter involving federal prosecution for, or grand jury investigation of, a felony.
2) Old passport (if lost or stolen make sure to include a report with application, form DS-64) or ID if your last passport was lost. Also, bring a copy of your old passport or else you may be charged $1.00 dollar for them to make that copy.
*TIP: If renewing a temporarily issued passport, bring the letter that came with it as that letter may exempt you from payment. If you lost the letter you may need to pay the full fee for renewal.
3) Documents to prove name changes, if applicable
4) 2 passport sized photos, 2” inches by 2” inches or 51mm x 51mm.
*TIP: Many people have their photos rejected because they are smiling, the background is not pure white, their head is tilted or turned, their eyes are closed or they are wearing something on their head, they are wearing glasses, they have their ears covered or are wearing earrings, their bangs cover their face or the size is wrong. Size is 2” inches by 2” inches or 51mm x 51mm, Mexican passport photos are a bit narrower. Also your head should be between 1 inch and 1 and 3/8 inches (25 to 25mm) from the bottom off the chin to the top of the head. Photo requirements have changed within the past few years so while the photo in your current passport may have been acceptable when it was issued, if it doesn’t meet the these requirements it may be rejected meaning you may have to make a second trip and return.
5) Payment of fees. Most consulates accept US Dollars, local currency and credit cards. Cash is always best as I have seen people have problems with their credit cards requiring them to pay in cash or come back another day. The Consulate charges credit cards in US Dollars so if your card cannot accept charges in US Dollars you will not be able to make a payment. The Consulate does not like to accept the old 500 pesos bills that have a pink tone to them (fallen horse on one side and an old building on other) so bring the newer brown ones with Frida Khalo and Diego Rivera on them. Also they will not accept damaged bills so if they have tears or rips use other ones. Passport renewals presented at the Consulate in Guadalajara are returned via Fedex and the Fedex courier desk only accepts pesos so make sure to bring pesos, the amount for delivery in the Guadalajara area runs around 120 pesos or less, Chapala 160 pesos or less, and other areas of Jalisco should be less than 250 pesos. Outside of the State of Jalisco delivery of passports may not to your home and you may have to go to a Fedex service center to pick up your passport such as in Irapuato, Guanajuato or La Barca, Jalisco.
*TIP: You must fill out a Fedex delivery form and specifically name the person or people who can receive the new passport and they must provide valid ID to the Fedex delivery agent. If your only ID is your US passport, remember that you will be turning it in for the renewal so you should put an alternate name and know the person’s complete name, as they will not deliver to a person not specifically named or that cannot present valid ID. Fedex will also want to know the cross streets for where your house is, so come prepared. Best to fill out the Fedex form completely as you wait to be attended to as you will be sitting down with all of your information and then things will go faster if your form is already filled out.
*Special payment policies for Lake Chapala area visits. If you are renewing your passport during the monthly visit of the US Consulate, you cannot pay in cash and MUST obtain a cashier’s check from Banamex at Av. Francisco I. Madero #222 in Chapala (across from the main plaza) in pesos for the amount required made out to “UNITED STATES DISBURSING OFFICE ON BEHALF.” DO NOT GET THE CHECK UNTIL A DAY BEFORE THE CONSULATE VISIT as the exchange rate will not be made available until a few days before their visit and people at the bank may not know or may give wrong amounts. If the Consulate visit is on a Wednesday, check the exchange rate that Monday through social media or LCS or the Americans Legion, if not the Consulate directly, then get the check on Tuesday.
6) Appointment. The US Consulate General in Guadalajara has walk in renewal service Monday through Thursday from 2:00pm to 2:40pm for renewal of passports issued within the past 10 years that were issued for a 10 year period (except holidays found here https://mx.usembassy.gov/holiday-calendar/). Minors, first-time applicants, or in cases when the validity period was not 10 years must make an appointment here: https://evisaforms.state.gov/acs/default.asp?postcode=GDL&appcode=1
***UPDATE, THEY MAY CHANGE TIMES FOR WALK IN RENEWALS STARTING OCTOBER 15TH, 2018 TO 1200 TO 1230, STAY TUNED***
If you are going to see the US Consulate at their monthly visits to the Lake Chapala area, they come to the American Legion located at Morelos #114 in Chapala 376-765-2259 (corner of Guerrero) first at 9:30am, there will be a sign-up sheet. The Legion serves breakfast so you can get their early to sign up on the list and eat while you wait. The Consulate then goes to the Lake Chapala Society 376-766-1140 located at 16 de Septiembre #16 (corner of Ramon Corona) in Ajijic and arrives around 11:00am or so. Consulate visit schedule can be found here https://mx.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/guadalajara/lake-chapalaajijic-services/
Rush passports may be available if you have an emergency. Rush temporary passports may only be valid for a year or less, so if you still have time left on your passport you may wish to travel back to the US and then use an expedited renewal service, so that for an extra $100.00-$150.00US or so you can have a fully valid passport for 10 years.
Minors have some additional requirements such as:
Must be accompanied by BOTH parents if under age 16 and if one parent cannot appear then the non-appearing parent MUST sign form DS-3053 for each child in front of a Notary Public AND present a copy of both sides of their ID.
*TIP: Find an English speaking notary as notaries that do not speak English may make you get an official translation of the form and instructions which is an extra cost and waste of time all because the notary cannot understand the form.
Each minor passport renewal for passports is like a new application and the applicant must present original birth certificate OR original proof of US Citizenship such as a Consular Report of Birth Abroad and parents MUST bring their original official IDs.
Be prepared when you go to the US Consulate or Embassy. There are strict security requirements and a long list of prohibited items, much more restrictive than the TSA restrictions when flying on commercial aircraft. You cannot enter with computers, cell phones, E-readers, CDs, DVDs, car key fobs, cosmetics, liquids, food, most electronic devices, or briefcases or backpacks. It is best to have all your documents you will present in a single folder and leave all metallic objects at home, with a friend or in your car. In addition, only the applicant may enter, so it is not a good idea to bring spouses or friends to show them what the consulate is like, as they will likely end up waiting outside.
Who cannot renew a US Passport? Those who have active arrest warrants, owe past-due child support of $2,500.00US or more, owe the IRS $51,000.00US or more, or those who have been convicted of drug trafficking charges. If you are one of these people it may be possible to get a temporary passport but it would only be good for a few days, just enough time to return to the US.
If you have lost 2 passports within a 10 year period then you will only be able to receive a passport good for one year, which you must then renew each year until you do not have two lost passports within the last 10 years. For example, if you lost a passport in 2012 and another in 2018, you would only be able to renew your passport for one year periods until 2022, as then your ten year history would only show the passport lost in 2018 and not one you lost in 2012. In other words, to avoid extra hassle and cost make sure to keep your passports safe.
How long will all of this take? If you have all of your documents in order, you should be in and out of the Consulate in 20 minutes. Fedex usually delivers the new passport within 2 to 3 weeks, and in the majority of cases we have seen, they arrive in 2 weeks.
There is a nearby secure parking lot on Lopez Cotilla between Chapultepec (turn right where Domino’s Pizza is) and Progreso on the right side right after the first speed bump, which costs 15 pesos an hour. This is the parking lot with the least amount of walking to get to the consulate.
Here is the entrance to the parking lot a block before the Consulate on the right side:
Ignore the people on the street who will try to trick you into parking into prohibited zones where your car may be towed (remember you will be inside with no cell phone). These same people might also ask you what you are doing and try to say you need more papers or an extra document and trick you out of your money. Ignore everyone you see until you have passed through the security checkpoint inside the US consulate.
Remember that when you get your new passport and sign your name on it, be careful how you do so and remember how you signed it. This is the signature the Mexican authorities and banks will make you copy on all official documents and forms for the next 10 years! Keep your new passport in a safe place, not too hard to find where you might forget it, and apart from your other valuables so that if you get robbed, your passport will not be stolen as well.
If you are elderly or not mobile many times the consulate may be able to come to your home to collect the documents to renew your passport. My office also helps those who are disabled and unable to leave their home to do the process in certain cases.
Lic. Spencer Richard Mc Mullen is a licensed Mexican attorney (Federal cedula #7928026, Jalisco State cedula #114067) as well as a State and Federal Court authorized expert translator with postgraduate diploma courses in Notarial Law, Condominium Law, Contracts, Civil and Business Procedure, Probate Law and Municipal Law, among others. He has thousands of immigration clients in Mexico and has helped many renew their US passports. He currently heads up a team of litigating attorneys with offices in Chapala and Guadalajara, Jalisco. www.chapalalaw.com 376-765-7553, 33-1592-3801, USA 805-683-4848.