I had over a year left until the expiry date on my US passport, but realized that I already could not buy any plane tickets for Christmas. It was time for me to renew my passport, but how was I supposed to do that when I have a full-time job and the embassy is only open when I am working?!
When I looked online, I learned that the US Embassy offered a round-trip courier service, so I would not have to visit the US Embassy directly to renew my passport. Here’s my experience with renewing my US passport through the online form and courier service.
Step 1: Fill out and print out form DS-82.
Form DS-82 (Renewal)
Step 2: Get a 5 x 5 cm passport photo.
The Korean passport size is 3.5 cm x 4.5 cm, so it is different from the US passport size [2×2 inches or 51×51 mm]. I went to a Korean photo studio franchise called 우리동네사진관 (Our neighborhood photo studio). If you ask for the 미국비자사진 (migook-bija-sajin; US Visa photo), then you can get the required size photo.
My photo was taken and ready in 15 minutes! Add your photo to your application digitally, or staple your photo onto the form.
Step 3: Get a money order from a Korean bank that you have a bank account with.
When I first sent in my application, I did not read through the embassy website instructions thoroughly enough and ended up sending a personal check. They sent my application back in a week.
For the application fee of 110 USD, you must get a money order from the bank that you have an account with. Go to the bank’s foreign exchange section and ask for the 위국 수표 (외화 수표). Some bank tellers might not be familiar with this because it’s not a common practice in Korea. It’s probably best to show them a picture of this:
You will need to bring your ID, and cash in KRW. The recipient name has to be “Cashier FMC U.S. Embassy Seoul.” After you get the printed money order, make sure to write your full name and Korean phone number on the back.
Step 4: Reserve the courier service designated by the US Embassy in Korea.
I don’t understand why the US Embassy in Korea only allows this service that is only available in Korean. You can ask a Korean friend or family member to handle this process, but the sender name has to be the same as the person who is renewing the passport.
발송인 = sender
수취인 = recipient
성명 = name
전화번호 = home/office phone
이동전화 = cellphone
회사명 = company name
우편번호 = postal code *click 검색 to search for the address in Korean
주소 = address
발송품명 = name of item
수량 = quantity/amount
중량 = weight in kg
물품가격 = value/cost of the item
지불방법 = payment method
선불 = pay first *6,000 KRW in cash when it is picked-up
방문요청일 = pick-up date
특기 사항 = special notes *This is where I mentioned that I would like to apply for a round-trip delivery. [미국대사관 왕복우편 원합니다.]
Step 5: Make sure to include these in your envelope.
- Completed form with one stapled passport photo (5 x 5 cm)
- Passport Book Application fee ($110)
- Most Recent Passport Book
Step 6: Hand your envelope to the courier service staff.
I left this part to my Korean husband because I cannot get out of class while I am teaching. When the staff arrived at his office, he handed the envelope and 6,000 KRW shipping fee. The delivery had to be done with my name, but I did not have to be there in person.
Step 7: Receive your new passport!
After two weeks, I received a message saying that I would receive the passport that morning. The return delivery was 착불, which meant the recipient pays the shipping fee (6,000 KRW). So for round-trip, the delivery fee was 12,000 KRW total.
Step 8: Update your passport information with the Korean Immigration.
If you’re living in Korea, you must update your passport number issuance date, and expiry date with the immigration. If you don’t do this, you will most likely have to pay a penalty fee.
Go to the Hi Korea website.
>E-application > Notification of change in registration information
They finally have an e-Application system, so you don’t have to visit the busy immigration office anymore. The e-Application is available on weekdays from 07:00 to 22:00 (Not available on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays).
Hope this helps you get an idea of how to renew your US passport in Korea!