It’s a common misconception that you have to renew your passport in the US.
But here’s the truth: in most cases, you absolutely don’t need to be in the US to renew your passport, you can renew it at pretty much any US Consulate, anywhere (though you should note that processing times vary, so unless you plan on being in-country for at least 4 weeks, it would be better to do it in your country of residence).
So, since I’ve been living in Puerto Vallarta for the last year, my passport expires in May, and I’ve got an upcoming trip to San Diego in April (most airlines won’t let you travel internationally without 6 months of validity on your passport), I had to get my butt in gear and get my passport renewed!
Step 1: Gather your required documents
You will need to bring:
- Passport photo
- Return shipment waybill
- Renewal form
- Old passport
You can go any portrait place that does photos (there’s a lot of them!).
I went with the little shop in Plaza Caracol, as the guy there has always done a good job and knows the requirements for everything. If you don’t know the shop I’m talking about, just ask any of the timeshares salesmen/Vallarta Adventure salespeople sitting in that little kiosk where the photos are and they’ll direct you.
It cost me 180 pesos for 4 photos (you only need 2 for the passport renewal application), including the taking of the photos and the printing, and the entire turnaround time was about an hour. They’re supposedly open every day of the week from 8am – 9pm, but I’d plan on going after 9am and before 8pm to be sure (and on Sundays between noon and 8pm).
The passport photo for an American passport is DIFFERENT from Mexican passports and visas and residencies. It needs to be 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm), and the head has to be between 1 to 1 3/8 inches from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head (25 to 35 mm).
Return shipment waybill / return shipping label and envelope
The Consulate won’t accept your application without a pre-paid shipping label and envelope (which they referred to as a waybill), which you need to purchase in advance.
You can choose either FedEx or Estafeta (not UPS, and I don’t know why).
I went to iShop&Mail and chose FedEx, which is probably more expensive but I trust infinitely more than Estafeta. The cost for an overnight FedEx waybill was 210 pesos.
You’ll need to fill in the sender, which is the Embassy in Guadalajara:
Name: CONSULADO GENERAL DE GUADALAJARA
Address: PROGRESO #75, COLONIA AMERICANA GUADALAJARA JALISCO, 44160
The receiver will be your address, or the iShop&Mail address, and make sure to leave your phone number.
Filling out the renewal form was faster and easier than I thought. Just be sure to have your old passport with you, as you’ll need to fill in the passport number, when you got it, etc.
Click here to fill out the form, print one copy, and don’t forget to sign!
Unlike renewing a passport in the US, you do not need to surrender your passport for any period of time when you renew it at the Consulate. Instead, the passport will be rendered invalid when the employee punches two holes in it.
Save this passport, as you’ll need it if you have any active physical visas (for example, I have a 10-year visa to Brazil in this passport).
As you might be able to tell, my passport is absolutely beat to crap, because until the past 3 years, I hadn’t been keeping it in a passport cover. I will be treating my new passport like the precious possession it is.
Nothing in life is free, as they say, and that certainly includes US passports. My passport renewal cost 2,145 pesos, though you can also pay in US dollars.
Step 2: Go to the Consulate during “open” hours.
The US Consulate for the Bahia de Banderas region (including my lovely little home of Puerto Vallarta) is located in the Paradise Plaza mall of Nuevo Vallarta.
The address of the US Consulate in Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit, Mexico is:
Paseo de los Cocoteros #85
Sur Paradise Plaza
Interior Local L-7
Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit
I drove (Paradise Plaza mall has easy parking), but you could also take an Uber there (though not an Uber back), a taxi there and back, or the bus.
When you get inside the mall, go to the top floor, and follow the signs to the offices/Consulate. It’s kinda in the back, down a corridor.
When I arrived around 9am (I’d been planning on getting in at 8:30am, as soon as it opened, but my run ran late), there was only one other person waiting. So, based on my experience (and my experience at other consulates around the globe), I’d recommend arriving as early as possible to beat any lines or crowds.
Passport renewals don’t require an appointment at the consulate, and you can walk-in Monday through Thursday, from 8:30am to 12:30pm, except for U.S. and Mexican holidays and the second Wednesday of each month.
Bring a book, magazine, or Kindle to pass the time, as you won’t be able to play with your phone while you’re waiting (the guard on duty makes you turn it off as you enter).[Emergency passports don’t require an appointment either, and you can walk-in from Monday through Thursday, 8:30am-12:30pm, with more information on that procedure here]
FYI: For after-hours emergencies you can call the U.S. Consulate General Guadalajara at: 01-55-5080-2000, ext. 0. If calling from the United States, dial 011-52-55-5080-2000, ext. 0.