One of the many benefits since the advent of the Internet is the ease with which we can now process our administrative tasks, such as passport renewals. Gone are the days of a long drive to your nearest passport center, armed with reams of paperwork, to stand in a long queue to be seen, followed by another long wait for your new passport to arrive. Of course, the physical visit is still an option in most cases, and remains a necessity in some. However these days, you can renew your passport, or at least start your application, directly online. This is good news if you live abroad!

Here we have researched, sifted and filtered information from the major anglophone ex-pat communities in France to give you a clear and concise round-up of information regarding renewing your passport online.

Note that we are talking about renewing passports – first-time applications have stricter rules, often necessitating a personal visit to the issuing authority. However, we have made what we think is a pretty accurate assumption that if you are a foreigner living in France, you already have a passport! 🙂

Does it take longer to renew your passport online?

Excepting South African passports, which are not renewable and require a brand new application each time (so take up to 6 months), passport renewal turnaround times are quicker than if you apply from within your home country! I just applied online to renew my 11 year old daughter’s UK passport. Her new passport arrived in France within two weeks! (Note that for UK child passport renewals, you’ll need to find a local counter-signatory – someone of standing within the community, who has known both parent and child for two years or more – to sign to confirm the identity of said child. I went to my local mairie who were fine about doing this.)

Does online really mean online?

Some renewals you can do from A to Z online, such as for Eire and New Zealand, as they accept a digital photo. For most others, you can start the application online. You then register it and print, sign forms and include relevant photocopies, passport photos and old passport before sending off by registered post.

Australian and South African passport renewals also necessitate a visit in person to your nearest embassy.

You can renew a US passport online if your most recent passport:

  • Is not damaged and can be submitted with your application;
  • Was issued when you were 16 or older;
  • Was issued within the last 15 years.

Otherwise, yes, it’s a trip to either the Paris or Marseille US Embassy, having pre-booked your appointment slot online.

Passport photo rules

If in doubt, go to a professional passport photographer and get them to take your passport photos. The US and Canada do not allow photo-booth photos. Full online applications for Eire require a digital photo. For this, you should visit a participating photographer, who takes your photo and then gives you a code. You enter this code in the relevant section within your online application and it accesses your photo. Clever stuff!

And of course, if you are lucky enough to be able to apply using photo-booth photos, remember, no smiling, no hats, no spectacles, no hair over the face, no adornments or embellishments such as hair ribbons or bows; face straight forwards, make sure the photos have a white background, try not to giggle! Follow all of these rules and you should be okay!


Country Link and Helpline Send current passport back No of pass- port photos required Payment type Avg turn- around time Notes
Great Britain Overseas British Passport Applications Yes 2 Debit/credit card 4 weeks Send full photocopy of any other current passports
Eire Embassy of Ireland Not with initial application Digital photo only if online Debit/credit card 6-8 weeks Online renewals not allowed for children or first time passports
United States U.S. Embassy Yes 1 French bankers’ check (chèque de banque) 4-6 weeks French photobooth photos not accepted
Canada Embassy of Canada Yes 2 French personal check or debit/credit card 8 weeks French photobooth photos not accepted
Australia Australian Passport Information Take with you to appointment 2 Debit/credit card 3 weeks Applications in person only (Paris embassy)
New Zealand New Zealand Online Passport Service No Digital photo if online or 2 if paper application Debit/credit card 10 days + courier time Full online service available in addition to paper service
South Africa Home Affairs for Republic of South Africa No 2 Not available 6 months + Renewals not possible – full new application for each new passport required.


Nicole Hammond

Nicole is a bilingual Brit from Cambridge who has been living in the Languedoc since 2002 and is one of the first Renestance's Consultants. She knows how to get things done and can find the key contacts, having worked in real estate, managed two businesses of her own, and started a large social group for English-speakers in the area.

All articles by: Nicole Hammond

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