What to Do with an Expired Passport

Unlike birth certificates, passports are not automatically issued to a citizen by the government of their country. You have to proactively apply for one to the corresponding government agency of your country. Another difference is that they do not remain valid for the holder’s lifetime: a passport is usually issued for a period of 5 or 10 years and will eventually expire.

It is not a good idea to travel internationally after your passport expires: Even if some countries might allow it, it usually requires support documentation. However, the question remains: what to do with your expired passport after you’ve got your new document?

While may assume an old passport is useless and simply toss it out, it can actually serve several functions and may be worth holding on to. Below you can find out more about what to do with an expired passport and whether you should keep it.

What You Should Do with an Expired Passport

If your passport expires, you should hold to on it and keep it in a safe place. There are several key reasons why you shouldn’t throw away an expired passport, including:

  • Some paper visas attached may still be valid – Nevertheless, do NOT risk trying to travel with them. Odds are you will run into problems.
  • It can still be used as ID document – Some countries allow you to still use your expired passport to confirm your identity in some situations.
  • It can prove your citizenship – An expired passport can be used instead of a birth certificate as proof of citizenship in some situations, such as when applying for a new passport.

However, to use an old passport to prove your citizenship, the passport photograph must resemble your current look.

Additional Reasons to Keep your Old Passport

Not all the reasons to keep your expired passport are practical. You may simply wish to hold on to it as a keepsake because of the many travel memories likely associated with it.

Simply flicking through the pages and seeing old entry stamps can sometimes bring back as vivid a memory as photographs and can help you live the nostalgia of an old trip. You may also want to show it to your children one day and inspire them to go on their own adventures.

You could also unleash your creative side and turn your old passport into a work of art by framing stamped pages and using them as gifts. Or you could just use it as a coaster for your morning cup of coffee.

If you do decide to dispose of your passport, make sure you remove any sensitive personal information. You may want to first cut it into pieces before throwing it out.

How to Renew an Expired Passport

If your passport has expired, then you will need to renew it before you travel internationally. The process usually involves submitting your old passport to the government passport agency, either in person or by mail.

Therefore, you will need to hold on your expired passport at least until you apply for your new one. Submitting your previous document as part of a new passport application can greatly speed up the process and remove the need to supply other forms of ID.

When you receive your new passport, your old document will likely be returned to you as well. In most cases, authorities will stamp the passport as ‘invalid’, cut off a corner, or make a hole through the document before they give it back, to confirm that it has been canceled.

The minimum validity required on a passport to enter a foreign country varies depending on the territory. Therefore, it is always important to check the visa policy for your destination in case you need to renew your passport in advance of your trip. This will help you avoid any problems that can arise from traveling with an expired document.