Every ten years I have to renew my US passport. When you live in Paris, you do it through the US Embassy by mailing in your old one with the fee and photo and special forms you need to fill out and print. There are very specific directions on how to do this, so it’s not a mystery, but it is time consuming and requires a bit of running around and QUITE a bit of cash.
The Passport Photo
There are very specific rules for your passport photo. Passport Photo (only a few places in Paris will do the “approved” format): €10 + 60 minutes to get there, get photo and return home.
The Renewal Fee
To pay the actual renewal fee, you’ll to send a Mandat Cash (money order): €105 + fee €7 + 20 minutes at the Post Office banking counter getting the Mandat (you can’t do it at the mailing counter).
The Postage Costs
It gets even more fun with the whole mailing shenanigans. You need to buy 2 Chronopost envelopes (one to mail my passport to the Embassy, one self addressed for them to send my new one): €50 + 20 minutes to get the envelopes and pay at the Post Office (including arguing with the clerk who wouldn’t let me tear off and keep the top copy, as directed by the embassy).
Plus 20 minutes to find, read, fill out the online forms and print them at home.
Total cost: €171.95
Total time: 2 hours (plus “4-6 weeks” to receive my new passport)
Annoyance level: High
Can’t You Just Go to the Embassy?
The US Embassy is only 20 minutes from my flat, but they won’t let you come to the Embassy in person to renew and pick up your passport, which would save on the Chronopost envelopes and cash mandat fees and the trips to La Poste (I’d rather wait in line at the awesome US Embassy than my boring neighborhood post office). The only time you can go to the Embassy to get a new passport, if your name has legally changed, or to replace a stolen or damaged passport, and even then, if you live here (ie it’s not urgent) you need an appointment. And taking a peek, I see the earliest one available is April 17th.
2019 UPDATE: It seems now you CAN schedule an appointment at the embassy if you prefer to do the renewal in person. Pick your poison.
A Whole Different Process
As an aside, I’m also getting my first French passport. I currently have a French National ID card (issued free to all French citizens as proof of ID, and can be used traveling in Europe). My appointment for that is April 2nd, at the police station a block from my flat, and the cost is €86, which I can pay with Timbres Fiscaux (special stamps you can buy quickly with cash at any tabac or even online). Official French passport photos can be purchased in any photomat in the Paris metro (usually €5 for 4). So why not just get a French passport and use that instead of my US one? Because it’s illegal for me to enter the United States with a foreign passport (one of the rules of double nationality). Still, I think in a pinch it’s nice to have both on hand. Plus I won’t have to wait (or go in a roundabout way) to go to Cuba. 🙂
I am applying for the renewal of my H1B visa and I have been authorized to send all the papers by mail. I am still utterly confused with the mandat-cash part. I went to la Poste office and they told me they are not doing mandat-cash anymore? Am I missing something ?
Did you have to include tax papers as well with the application to show you paid your taxes in the US.(fatca)?
No, but I’m sure they can check directly with the IRS themselves. 😉
How did they send back? Can you tell me please? Regular mail delivered in box, or registred?
Hi Shannon, yes, they sent me the old one back. 🙂
Thanks for the helpful post! Did you receive your expired US passport when you got the new one back? I am concerned as I will need the expired one for my past visas and stamps, as this is sometimes requested during my visa renewal appointments in France.
Hey suggestions . I Appreciate the info – Does someone know if my company can acquire a blank CA CM-110 copy to complete ?
One addition: The American Embassy website insists that *We require that all applications be completed online and printed from a laser printer. If you choose to submit a hand-written application or print the application on a non-laser printer, this could cause delays in processing your application."Yes. They require a "laser printer".Just to add to the aggravation I suppose.
Hello,My passport will expire in June. I'm planning to visit my parents in April, I would like to know if I can still travel with my passport. Can someone give me some information's.Thank you
Thanks for the very useful info, and the followup of how long things took!
Thank you for sharing your experience with us all. I heard that we can apply for a passport via online. I don't know whether we can do it when we are outside the U.S. But I think online passport process will be less hectic.
Danette, the Embassy web site has all of this information about the passport process, including this document with the list of photographers: http://photos.state.gov/libraries/france/5/acs/photographers.pdf For EVERYONE: I am just a supplemental source of info. Please contact the EMBASSY if you have a questions for the Embassy, not a third party.
Could you please give some examples of the "few places in Paris will do the "approved" format"? After dropping 50 EUR on the postage to-and-from the Embassy, they've returned my application via Chronopost, saying that my photo is not acceptable. Annoyance level: through the roof. They couldn't have e-mailed or called me instead of wasting my 25 EUR Chronopost envelope?? Grrr.
Hmmm…I think they changed that, because no way would I have chosen to send it Chronopost if I had the choice (it DOES still resuire you send THEM a Chronopost envelope to have the passport sent to you). So knock €25 off the US Passport renewal price, still making it much, much more than the French one).
The directions that you have linked to above ("very specific directions on how to do this") state that you do not have to send it to them by Chronopost ("send your complete application by registered mail or Chronopost to:") — in theory, at least, Chronopost should be faster — whether it's worth 25 EUR or not depends on how quickly you need your passport back, I suppose.
Hi Fabbeaux, the directions I have specifically state you DO have to send it to them via Chronopost.
You do not have to SEND in a Chronopost envelop – a registered letter is sufficient.
Very useful post Heather. Thanks.This is coming up Oct, 2016…ughAny hints where you can get the special passport photo or did I miss the link?I sent it on to my visa lawyer A.C.Dana.It gets complicated if you're due to renew your French visa but your US passport is coming due.CheersCarolg
It's the same procedure for all Americans in France, not just those in Paris. I renewed mine not too long ago from Lille. I got my new passport about a week later. The Embassy is definitely a lot faster than renewing back in the US! I don't think they want us sitting around here long without a passport.The biggest pain was actually Chronopost. They didn't even attempt to deliver it to me. Once seeing the status online, I called to find out that it was sitting at their office near the airport (no where near the center of Lille), and I had to go pick it up – no fun when you can't drive. When I picked it up, the driver had marked that he called me, and I didn't answer. Definitely not the case! Hope you have a better experience with them than I did.