Renewing your U.S. passport while living in the Philippines can be a very simple process. There is quite a bit of information currently available for this procedure, including the clear instructions from the U.S. Embassy.

As I recently had to renew my passport, I thought it would be good to relay my experience and point out the issues that arose. Obviously if you live in Manila everything is easier. I don’t, so there were a couple more wrinkles for me.

Here are the official U.S. Passport Renewal requirements and instructions. You don’t need to go any further if you want to do things on your own. That’s what I did, and what follows are the things I learned along the way.

Renew before six month expiry

Most experienced international travelers probably know this already, but I didn’t. I knew my passport would need to be renewed this year as it would expire in August. I didn’t think that was a problem until I found out that I had need to use it earlier than that. It was then that I learned of the six month rule. To get back into the Philippines I needed at least six months remaining on my passport. From what I understand that may be true for all countries.

Calling the courier

To have your application and current passport picked up (meaning you aren’t going to Manila or Cebu to process it) you need to call a special number for the exclusive courier that the embassy uses, Air21. It won’t do any good to go to a local Air21 office, as they have a specific routine to handle this. You need to call.

For me that was a minor issue as I don’t have a landline and the number to call is landline only. No email or text. So I needed to buy load specifically for the purpose of having them pick up my package.

The other issue I had is that there is no one regularly at my residence, so I needed to have them call first. Of course they didn’t, but I got lucky and caught the driver. Unfortunately on the return my number had changed, and even though the driver had said he’d call first I couldn’t get ahold of anyone to give them my new number. Air21 said they couldn’t accept it until my package was on the way back and the embassy had extremely limited phone hours which always returned a busy signal.

I wrote a letter authorizing my neighbors to accept my package and hoped for the best. As it turned out that worked fine.


Even though you can renew remotely, you must pay ($110) in person before the embassy will process the renewal. You can authorize someone to do that for you, with payment in Manila or at the consulate in Cebu. I had my brother in Manila do that for me.

For whatever reason they didn’t give him a receipt. So after two weeks I was wondering if they were really processing it or not, and if the lack of receipt was going to be a problem. Again I had no way of knowing. There is an email address you can contact to ask questions. I tried that but never received an answer.

After two weeks and 1 day my renewed passport arrived, much to my relief, with the receipt stapled to the back of my old passport. The process was pretty simple even though I had a few small problems. Most people I had talked to about this procedure indicated that they got theirs back much quicker than I did. So I think two weeks is probably the most you would normally need to wait.

Now I’m good for another 10 years, so I’ll see what the procedure is then, if I’m still around to be concerned with it.

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