You Should Never Get Rid Of Old And Expired Passports. Here's Why

Your passport is one of the most essential travel documents when going out of the country. Once a passport has expired, though, you might think it no longer has much value — but that's not true. Old passports can confirm your identity and might still be linked to still-active visas. Additionally, if you toss your expired passport in the trash, there's a chance your personal information could get into the wrong hands and become an identity theft issue. So keep hold of it!


Plus, keeping that old passport will make it easier to obtain your next passport. In the United States, if you received your passport after you were 16, and it's within 15 years from when it was issued, you're able to send your expired passport to the National Passport Processing Center via mail to receive a new one as compared to having to go into an office — saving you time. There are a couple of other qualifiers, like the condition of the document, so double-check with the State Department. You'll get your expired passport back from the State Department after your renewal passport is processed. Ensure the renewed one is with you the next time you travel; the old one should have a hole punched in it or a corner cut off to help signal that it's expired.


Your expired passport may still be linked to a current visa

When you receive that old passport back, you might think its job is finished — but still don't toss it. The U.S. Department of State advises that people hold onto their expired passports, particularly if they used that old passport for a still-valid visa for travel to a specific country. While your new passport will also be linked to the visa, you'll need to take both with you when you travel on that visa. Having the wrong documents is one mistake that will definitely slow you down at airport security.


In some instances, expired passports can help prove your American citizenship. It can also be used as proof of identification, assuming you still look at least somewhat like you did for your passport photo (it won't work as well if you try using one from when you were a kid to prove your identity as an adult). So, while an out-of-date passport may have to be paired with another form of unexpired ID, depending on the circumstance, it can still go a long way to proving you are who you say you are.

Old passports can hold memories

Older passports can work as a memory keepsake of the countries that you visited, with colorful entry and exit stamps adorning the pages and providing a trip down memory lane — the family trip to Cancun, your honeymoon in New Zealand, your college backpacking trip through Europe — all together in one place. That adds a sentimental reason to the practical ones for keeping your old passport and perhaps even an older relative's passport after they pass away.


However, in today's modern digital age, a number of countries are foregoing the physical passport stamp as the way to track who comes and goes, which means that using your expired passport as a type of travel scrapbook could soon be over. So, there may not be the same emotional value to a document that's been expired for decades and has been replaced multiple times. If you are fully purging yourself of old documents and have exhausted the reasons for holding onto an old passport, you can safely turn it over to the U.S. State Department passport agency to be disposed of properly.