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Renewing Your American Passport in Paris

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. 

Passport Photo (only a few places in Paris will do the "approved" format) €9.95 + 60 minutes to get there, get photo and return home. 

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).

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

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 is 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. 

So now I'm waiting to see if my new passport will arrive before my next trip to the US in June! 

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. :-) 

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Reader Comments (15)

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.
March 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterShannon
Very useful post Heather. Thanks.
This is coming up Oct, 2016...ugh
Any 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.
March 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterParisbreakfast
You do not have to SEND in a Chronopost envelop - a registered letter is sufficient.
August 25, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterFabbeaux
Hi Fabbeaux, the directions I have specifically state you DO have to send it to them via Chronopost.
August 25, 2015 | Registered CommenterHeather Stimmler-Hall
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.
December 4, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterD
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).
December 5, 2015 | Registered CommenterHeather Stimmler-Hall
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.
December 9, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDanette
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.
December 10, 2015 | Registered CommenterHeather Stimmler-Hall
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.
December 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKevinChurch
Thanks for the very useful info, and the followup of how long things took!
December 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterVeltrop

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