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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.

How to renew your American passport in France
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.

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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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American cemetery in Paris region to light up on Monday night

One of a dozen American military cemeteries will light up outside of Paris on Monday night, in tribute to the 100th anniversary of the creation of the American Battle Monuments Commission. All visitors are welcome.

American cemetery in Paris region to light up on Monday night

Just eight kilometres to the west of Paris, the Suresnes American Cemetery – one of the 12 American cemeteries located in mainland France – will host a vigil on Monday night, to honour of the 100th anniversary of the creation of the American Battle Monuments Commission.

The cemetery will be lit up, with candles laid on each of the 1,565 headstones.

The event will begin at 7pm and it will run until 9pm. All visitors are welcome.

The vigil will commemorate the American Battle Monuments Commission, which was established by the US Congress in 1923, as part of the Federal Government tasked with designing, constructing, operating and maintaining permanent American cemeteries and monuments in foreign countries.

Earlier in the weekend, other American military cemeteries across France – namely the Normandy cemetery where 9,386 American soldiers who lost their lives during D-Day and subsequent operations are buried – conducted their own celebrations for the centennial. In Normandy, on Saturday, the cemetery also placed candles on each headstone, and lowered the flag in remembrance of those buried.

READ MORE: Oldest allies: The best and worst moments of the French-American relationship

As for the Suresnes Cemetery, it is the only American military cemetery where soldiers from both the First and Second World War are buried. It is also one of two American military cemeteries in the Paris region – the other being Lafayette Escadrille Memorial Cemetery, in Saint-Cloud Park.

In recent years, it has been visited by several American politicians, from President George W. Bush in 2009 to President Donald Trump in 2018 during the 100th year anniversary of the 1918 Armistice.

In 2021, Vice President Kamala Harris also toured the site. 

The vigil on Monday night will be one of the few times of year that the cemetery is allowed to be open at nighttime. 

The burial ground and memorial is located on Boulevard Washington in Suresnes (Hauts-de-Seine), on the slope of Mont Valérien facing Paris where visitors can gaze with a panorama view of the city of Paris.

For those looking to take part in the event, but are unable to travel, it will be covered live on ABMC’s Facebook page, as well as on Twitter and Instagram under the username @usabmc. You can find more information HERE.