What To Do With Old Passports? Keep Them Or Trash Them?

what to do with old passports

As with most expired things, you might consider throwing your expired passport into the trashcan. After all, you can’t use it anymore, right?

That is not completely true.

What to do with old passports then? Retaining your expired passport has several benefits, and trashing it could be detrimental.

What To Do With Old Passports: Benefits of Keeping Them

1. You Can Prove Your Identity With Expired Passports

In many countries, like the U.S., old passports are proof of identity and legal status. This works in your favor in both ways, whether you are a resident or a tourist.

This eliminates the hassle of having to conjure up your original birth certificate. You can just supply your expired passport as proof of citizenship. Conversely, if you visit a foreign country and lose your valid passport, the old one can serve as a legitimate ID. It’s a savior in such emergencies.

Another savior in the case that you lose your passport can be travel insurance. With a travel insurance policy purchased before your trip, you can receive assistance in replacing your lost or stolen passport.

2. Passport Renewal Process Becomes Smoother

Remember the bureaucratic maze you had to navigate to get that passport in the first place? That wasn’t all for nothing. Your hard work back then is going to pay off now.

Passport agencies will ask for the old passport when you renew a passport. Since all the essential personal information and proof of nationality is already on there, it makes the process that much easier for the agency, and subsequently, you. No need to dig up a bunch of documents again.

3. Visa Application and Entry into Countries Is Easier

Sometimes even after passport expiration, some incorporated visas are still valid. In that case, throwing away your passport would be a blunder.

If you are visiting a country like Brazil that permits transferring a valid visa from an expired passport to a new one, you can skip the visa application process. It can be a smooth transition.

Even if all of your visas on your old passport have lapsed, it can be advantageous if you are revisiting a country. You will still have to re-apply for a visa. Only this time, the process will be smoother, since you have your expired visa information.

4. Easy Driver’s License Renewal

You must be thinking, what to do with an old passport after renewal? There’s so much you could do with it.

When you renew your driver’s license, you can simply provide your expired passport as ID proof. It will be just as legitimate as your voter’s ID card. This extends to the scenario of losing your license as well. All you need is your old passport to verify who you are.

5. Maintain a Record of Your International Travels

If you are a frequent traveler, it might be difficult to solely rely on your memory to remember all of the countries you have visited. Reminiscence can get quite blurry and inaccurate.

If you keep your previous passports, your mind can take a rest. Take out any old passport and you will know where you were in the past, down to the date. 

What Not To Do With Old Passports: Dangers of Trashing Them

1. Higher Chances of Identity Theft

We have hammered into your mind by now that old passports are valid proof of identity. That should be proof enough of the sensitive information it contains.

Passports these days are durable. They won’t disintegrate into oblivion once discarded. Instead, they stick out like a sore thumb no matter which vat or landfill they reach, and bad guys are everywhere.

Someone can steal your identity and carry out illegal activities under your name.

2. Impending Legal Trouble

Technically, a passport issued by the government is not your property. You can get into trouble for destroying it.

Newer passports these days come with an RFID chip that contains your personal information. It is illegal to tamper with that chip. So instead of trying any stunts with scissors or fire, it is more prudent to hand over your expired passport to the U.S. State Department passport agency. They can destroy it for you, upon request.

3. Creating Waste and Contributing to Pollution

Seems like quite a stretch. But is it? As a responsible person, this should be the first issue that strikes you before you throw anything in the trash. Is it absolutely necessary to be discarded?

The world is facing a global waste crisis. Land and water pollution are at an all-time high. Do you need more reasons? These questions are hard to swallow, which is why they need to be asked.

Treasure Your Old Passport, along with Your Memories

If you think about this in a different light, a passport is almost like a time capsule. Places you visited when you were 30, you can reminisce about at 60.

It starts with finding an old passport. Before you know it, you are pouring over old pictures, exclaiming “those were the days.”

Aside from the memoir side of it, now you know what not to do with old passports.

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