In 2007, the State Department began requiring citizens to carry passports for travel to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. If you're one of the 18.6 million who applied for a blue book that year, be prepared for longer renewal times now that the ten year expiration date approaches.
Think you have time? Let's break this down:
Many countries require that your passport is valid for up to six months beyond your travel dates, so if you're traveling at the beginning of 2017, you'll want to have your passport renewed by summer of next year. The average processing time for a passport is four to six weeks, but heavy periods can stretch to ten. (And with 16 million applications anticipated in 2016, we can consider that a really heavy period).
If you have six or less months remaining, it's crucial to renew immediately. If you have about a year left, we still recommend you consider it. Oh, and if you are running out of pages but your passport is still valid, make an appointment to renew as overseas page inserts will no longer be available. There are 52-page options available for frequent travelers.
To avoid stress altogether, now is by far the best time to renew. You can find the forms and requirements here on the State Department's website.
P.S. If you reside in one of the states whose licenses are not compliant with the REAL ID act, that makes now an even more perfect time the apply! Read more here.