The question of what to do with an expired passport has come up a few times from our readers. First of all, if your passport has expired, you need to decide if you need a new one depending on whether your upcoming travel plans will require one or not. If your upcoming travels will require you to present a valid passport, then apply for a new passport and send the old passport along with your application which will be cancelled and returned back to you along with your new passport. An expired passport which has been cancelled by the State Department such as when a new passport is issued or when it is reported as a lost or stolen passport is less damaging than a passport which has been expired but not yet cancelled. Although a passport may be expired and inactive, it still contains confidential information and is considered in circulation and in the possession of its holder.
If you don’t need to renew your passport yet, keep it in a safe location similar to your other valuable items. Both expired and current passports provide a few personal information about the passport holder which can be used for identity theft purposes as well as international crimes such as terrorism. Therefore, it is extremely important to properly safeguard all passports, whether expired or not in order to prevent identity fraud and other crimes committed in your name. As such, it is also extremely important to report all lost and stolen passports including the expired passports in order to notify the authorities of the potential possibility of their misuse and clear your name in case they are used to commit a crime.
I treat the passports of all my family members as extremely confidential documents whether they are expired or not. When needed, I renew the expired passports by obtaining a new passport and canceling the expired one which is returned to me along with my new passport. Although the new passport has a different passport number than the expired and cancelled passport, the old passport still provides a few details about my identity which can be misused if it falls into the wrong hands. An expired passport must still be treated carefully if you decide to keep them. I securely keep our family’s expired and cancelled passports for a few reasons. First, I’d like to remember how we looked when we traveled with our passports since my kids are growing fast and my memory is also rapidly fading away. And second, it’s interesting to look back and remember the places I visited based on the visa stamps especially places where governments have changes.
In conclusion, if you have already replaced and cancelled your expired travel document, you can either shred and discard your old cancelled passport or you can keep it securely similar to your active passport. Like I said, expired passports which are not cancelled can still be misused. Although a passport which has been expired and cancelled is not as dangerous as an active or valid passport, it still provides enough personal information for identity theft purposes including the use of the passport for identification purposes to enter places and cause damage in your name.
If you have shared your passport information with others and strongly suspect they might misuse your identity, replace your passport by applying for and obtaining a new one. This will cancel your old passport, whether it was expired or not. And, if you have lost your passport, read this article for how to replace lost, stolen or expired passport. One last point to remember is that an actual passport whether expired or not, can be misused, therefore, it is very important to have complete custody of your passport at all times. I’m not talking about whether you have shared copies of a few pages of your passport with others but rather the passport itself is much more dangerous than copies of a few pages although the less you share with others, more secure you will be including copies of passport pages which provide lots of personal information.