For members


How to renew your American passport in France

If you are an American living in France and your American passport is expiring soon, here is what you need to know about the renewal process.

A new blank US passport being created in 2007
A new blank US passport being created in 2007 (Photo by PAUL J. RICHARDS / AFP FILES / AFP)

Renewing your American passport while in France has a slightly different – and at times more challenging – process than doing so in the United States.

Before starting, you should keep in mind that the process on average takes between four to six weeks, so be sure to begin well in advance of any international travel.

Here are the steps you should take, and the things to be aware of when doing so:

Determine whether you should renew by mail or make an appointment

Unfortunately, you can’t do this process online – it involves either an in-person visit or sending documents by mail.

If you are an adult renewing your 10-year passport, then you most likely will need to do so by mail. This has been the US Embassy in France’s ongoing policy since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Children’s passport renewals are still conducted in-person.

READ MORE: Americans in France: What you need to know about proposed changes to EU driving licence rules

There are some circumstances where you might be able to make an appointment. You can learn more about whether this will be possible for you, as well as wait times on the Embassy’s website HERE or by emailing the Passport Unit directly at [email protected] 

The Embassy may allow you to make an in-person appointment if you have a ticketed flight within the next three weeks.

If you are doing it by mail, here’s what to do next;

Fill out and print the renewal form

As long as your most recent passport was issued in the last 15 years and you were over the age of 16 at the time, then you should complete a DS-82 form (found HERE). If this is not the case for you, then you will likely need to complete the DS-11 form.

You fill out all the details of the form online, and then click save, at which point it will save your form into a Pdf, that you then print out. When it comes to filling out the ’emergency contact’ section, you must list someone living in the US, as the form cannot accept non-US addresses. 

Once printed out, you then need to sign and date the form – failure to do so can mean that your paperwork will not be counted and will be sent back to you. 

Take your identification photo

The next step involves taking a passport identification photo that you will staple onto the DS-82 paperwork.

This part can be tricky for Americans in France, as many of the Photomaton machines that you will find in French grocery stores or stations do not offer the correct dimensions for an American passport renewal. The picture must be in colour with a white background, and it must be 2 inches by 2 inches, or about 5 cm by 5 cm. 

If you are able to have your renewal appointment at the Embassy, then you will be able to take use their specialised photobooth. However, for all others, you will likely find yourself needing to book an appointment with an independent photographer or studio who will print the photograph with the correct dimensions. 

If you google “Le Labo Photo” or “Le Studio Photo” in French, then you will be able to find a studio near you. Some places will allow walk-in sessions, while others may require appointments to be made beforehand. If you are struggling to find a photo studio, then you can email the Embassy’s Passport Unit and ask for a recommendation near you.

Pay the fee and print the confirmation

Pay the passport application fee. You can do this via the US government’s secure payment site. You will need to print the electronic confirmation, which you will receive by email after paying the fee. This should be included in the documents sent to the Embassy in your passport renewal file. 

Buy a prepaid envelope

Next, buy a pre-paid envelope – this must be included as it will allow the Embassy to send you your new passport.  The Embassy recommends that the envelope should allow for 500g of weight per applicant. More than one applicant can use the same envelope as long as the weight allowed for is correct (for example – two applicants should ask for a 1kg envelope) and you can expect to pay around €30 for this.

READ MORE: Americans in France: Investment options, citizenship and basketball

At the post office, ask for either a Collissimo (“pret-a-envoyer”) or Chronopost (“pret-a-expedier”) envelope. The Embassy advises on their website that “Applicants outside of Metropolitan France and Monaco should use a Chronopost “Monde et Outre-Mer” envelope.”

On the envelope that will be used to send your passport back to you, fill out Expidateur (Sender) segment with the Embassy’s address: US Embassy; ACS/Passport Unit; 4, avenue Gabriel; 75382 Paris Cedex 08 France.

Next, under Destinataire (Recipient) put in your own name and address. 

Post your file

Put together all your documents – the DS-82 paperwork with your identification photo attached, your passport that is set to expire, printed payment confirmation email and pre-paid envelope – in a large envelope ready for posting. 

You can send this by normal mail, but as the envelope includes your original passport, you may wish to send it by tracked mail.

Une Lettre Suivie is a registered letter that will allow you to track the package as it makes its way to the Embassy for peace of mind. It costs slightly more than a traditional stamp would, and it will allow you to be able to follow the letter on the La Poste website using the tracking number given to you.

READ MORE: Have your say: What do Americans in France need to know about French life?

Wait for your new passport to be sent back to you

Your new passport will be sent to you by mail, and the Embassy indicates on their website that processing time is typically four to six weeks. 

You may be able to check the status of your passport while it is being processed online HERE.

Member comments

  1. Interesting. I renewed my US passport last January (2022) and had zero issues getting an appointment at the Paris Embassy — and wasn’t flying anywhere. Prepared the file online, paid online, brought the receipt and prepaid mailer and had the new one back in less than two weeks to me here in Saint-Etienne. Absolutely painless.

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For members


What are the rules on bringing cheese, meat and wine to the US from France?

Whether you're taking home a little taste of France at the end of a trip or want to introduce your American friends and family to the delights of French cheese, sausage and wine - here's what US customs regulations say.

What are the rules on bringing cheese, meat and wine to the US from France?

Firstly, it’s worth noting that provided you declare any food items on your US customs declaration form, you won’t get in any kind of trouble.

The US Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service says; “As long as you declare all the agricultural products you are bringing with you, you will not face any penalties – even if an inspector determines that they cannot enter the country” – so the worst that can happen is that an item gets confiscated.

But the last thing you want is to spend precious euros on expensive cheeses, cured sausage or fine wines only to have your precious cargo seized by a border agent as soon as you land. So how can you avoid that happening?


The first thing to know is that solid/hard cheeses are generally fine. US Customs and Border Protection’s latest guidance explicitly states that “solid cheese that does not contain meat” is admissible.

That means hard cheeses such as Comté or or Beaufort are fine.

When it comes to soft cheeses, the rules are slightly more strict: the US department of Agriculture says these are generally OK to bring in, “as long as the cheese does not contain meat or pour like a liquid ie ricotta or cottage cheese.”

That indicates that cheeses such as brie or goat’s cheese are fine to take with you, regulation-wise (although you do need to keep these as cool as possible, and of course brie will stink out your luggage).

American authorities also have a problem with blue cheese – anything with a certain bacteria level is banned, which includes many blue cheeses including France’s famous roquefort

Finally, there’s mimolette, which the US declares is a health hazard – this hard orange cheese has a crust that is created by burrowing weevils (it’s actually nicer than it sounds).

The above rules cover cheese that is for person consumption (or to give as a gift) – when it comes to importing cheese into the US for resale, if the product is made from raw or unpasteurised milk (as many French cheeses are), only hard cheese is allowed.

The US Customs Clearance website states: “Soft or liquid cheese made from raw cow’s milk or other milk-producing animal is banned from importing into the US by the FDA.”


So what if you want to pick up some Bayonne ham, saucisson sec or other types of cured meats?

Unfortunately, these are banned under current US rules. The Department of Agriculture clearly states: “Cured hams (prosciutto, Serrano ham, Iberian ham) and salami from areas within France, Germany, Italy and Spain may not be brought into the United States by travellers.”

“These items may only enter in commercial shipments because there are special restrictions that require additional certification and documentation.”


If you’ve fallen in love with a particular French vintage during a vineyard trip you may want to bring a couple of bottle back with you.

This is allowed, but the allowances for all types of alcohol are very low. 

The exact amount of alcohol you can import into the US varies by state, so you will need to check the rules on the state you are flying into (and it’s where the airport is that counts, not your final destination).

The US Consulate says that the average amount allowed is just one litre (so that’s one standard size bottle of wine, plus a half bottle) for duty-free allowances, and after that duty has to be paid, with amounts varying by state.

You also need to remember that the drinking age in most US states is older than in Europe, so you cannot bring in any type of alcohol if you are under 21.

As with the cheese, wine can only be imported for personal consumption or as a gift. 

Please note that The Local is unable to advise on individual cases. If you’re unsure whether an item is allowed, email the National Center for Import and Export at [email protected] or call on (+1) 301-851-3300 or (+1) 877-770-5990 in advance of your journey for confirmation.