Renewing U.S. Passports from Nicaragua

Ron and I had no blank pages left in our passports. That’s the price one pays because of the love of travel. We had two options: either get extra passport pages in our passports before December 2015, or renew our passports.

The cost of a packet of extra pages for our passports was $82. The cost of renewing our passports and getting new ones was $110 at the U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua. It was a no-brainer for us and cheaper in the long-run because our passports could be renewed for ten more years.

Why are extra passport pages going away?

Being curious, I wondered how our U.S. Passports are made.


U.S. Passport facts at a glance.

How to apply for renewal of U.S. passports in Nicaragua

1.We made appointments at the U.S. Embassy in Managua to apply for new passports. Passports and Consular Reports of Birth at U.S. Embassy in Managua.

2. First, we made an appointment here: Appointment system.
Be sure to copy and print the date to take with you to the Embassy in Managua.

3.Then, we filled out the online forms to renew our passports and printed the forms.
Click on the “Complete Form Online”. Then, once printed, take them to the U.S.
Embassy in Managua.
 Passport and Visa Pages Applications

4. Next, we needed photos. We followed the directions in the photo composition
 template. Make sure you have a white background (we had to borrow a white sheet from our neighbor because all of our walls are vibrant colors). I won’t tell if you don’t…I photo shopped some of our wrinkles out of the photos. lol

5. Finally, we called our taxi driver to take us to Managua, took enough money out of the ATM to pay for the trip and to renew our passports…and we were off.

Our appointments were for 1:00pm. We arrived at 12:15pm and stood in the line under the awning. Know where to stand in line because the guards are very organized and they will check your appointment time and usher you into the building exactly at 1:00pm.

IMG_0177I only wish everyone knew how to stand in line correctly. Many people didn’t make appointments or tried to cut our line. They were politely ushered to the back of the line, or if they didn’t make appointments, they were told to leave the line and make an appointment.

Once you are called into the building, security is tight. You have to leave all cell phones and other electronic equipment in the front office. Then, your bags go through an x-ray machine and you pass through a metal detector. It is similar to an airport.

Then, you go through another waiting room with lines of long uncomfortable metal benches, where you are inspected again before they buzz you into the passport room.

Once in the passport room, you check-in and they give you a number. It’s like the meat department of a large grocery store, except that the embassy agents are behind bullet proof glass. When your number is called and flashes on a neon screen, you go to the bullet proof window and submit all your paperwork. Then, you go to the cashier’s window ( also behind a bullet proof window) and pay for your passports. Finally, you return to the embassy agent’s window, show him/her your receipt and they tell you to come back in 8-10 days for your passport. They send an email to tell you when your passport is ready.

IMG_0179It reminded me of a prison…although I’ve never visited anyone in a high security prison, I imagine it is very similar to all U.S. Embassies abroad.

IMG_0180Yesterday, exactly 8 days after we submitted our applications for our passports, we received an email that they were ready. We were supposed to arrive at 2:00pm to pick up our passports, but since we live on Ometepe Island and the last ferry leaves at 5:30pm, we were worried that we would miss the last ferry home.

However, they allowed us to arrive at 1:00pm so we could make it back to Ometepe Island the same day. They were very accommodating. 🙂 We repeated the same procedures to enter the building. Make sure you have your receipt with you to show the guards.

Overall, the entire process of renewing our U.S. passports abroad was a breeze. The most difficult thing was the travel time. Our round trip to Managua was over six hours for about 15 minutes of our time at the U.S. Embassy.

Have you applied for passports while living abroad? What was your experience like?

26 thoughts on “Renewing U.S. Passports from Nicaragua

  1. Thanks for sharing! Do you have any idea how many empty pages one needs to enter Nicaragua? I was planning to go next week and just realized that while my passport has some space for stamps, it has no empty pages!

  2. Our passport pages are rapidly filling up and I’d always wondered what we’d need to do short of returning to the US to get a new passport. I’d always assumed that the US Embassy located in whatever country we were in could replace the visa but it’s good to have a definitive answer as well as some idea as to the process. Thanks for the info! Anita

    • You are very welcome, Anita. Just make sure you renew your passport before you have your book completely filled because some countries won’t let you enter without a certain amount of blank pages. It depends on the country, but it is usually 4 blank pages.

    • Let us know how it goes in Ecuador. Our passports didn’t need to be renewed for 2 more years, but we had no blank pages left and we couldn’t leave or enter another country without blank pages. When you got your residency, did Ecuador immigration officers stamp the last page of your passport? They stamped the last page in our old passports, here. Now I am really hoping that it will be easy to take my old passport and my new one to the airport in a couple of weeks, and they can just stamp my new passport with my residency info. Keep your fingers crossed.

  3. Thanks for sharing this Nicaraguan experience…
    I lived in Latin America for many years and noticed that passports’ procedures change from country and country…..

  4. I just renewed mine and the only difference for your renewal appointment was you sat & waited until they called your name instead of standing in line. When I picked mine up I arrived at 2:00 and the guard asked me about an appointment but let me in immediately when I said I was there to pick one up. The longest wait was inside for your number to be called maybe 30-45 minutes..

  5. ” It’s like the meat department of a large grocery store, except that the custom agents are behind bullet proof glass.”
    Pardon me for being pedantic: what’s *customs* got to do with passport renewal? For that matter, what does the U.S. Embassy have to do with the Nicaraguan Aduana?

    In central Mexico, we can renew our passports at the U.S. Consular Agency in San Miguel de Allende, about a 3 hour drive from home, or a 4 hour series of bus rides. The U.S. Embassy in Mexico is in Mexico City (5 hours on the bus), but from what we have heard, the San Miguel Consular Agency is much more user friendly and accessible.

    We already renewed our passports in SMA in 2009, so we are good to until 2019.

    Don Cuevas

    • Oh my goodness. You are absolutely right! I need to change that. What do you call the people who work for the embassy? Embassy agents? The U.S. Embassy has nothing to do with our Nicaraguan cedulas and residency. In fact, when we got residency, the Nicaraguan Immigration agents stamped the last page of our U.S. passports with the date of our residency. So, now with our new passports, we have to go to the Nicaraguan Immigration office for new stamps. I am hoping that I can just take my old passport, my Nicaraguan cedula ID, and my new passport to the airport when I return to the states for a visit next month. Hopefully, they can just stamp my new passport at the airport with my residency information.
      Thanks, Michael, for sharing your process in Mexico.

  6. I live in David, Panama which is about 300 miles from Panama City. The Embassy sent an out reach group from the Embassy to here. It is through their American Citizen Service unit. They took our applications. They sent an email to me when the passport was ready. It took about 8-9 days.They have an arrangement with DHL.I took my old, expiring passport to DHL. They sent it in one of there express letters to the Embassy. I paid $9 and change to DHL and another $9 prepaid for the return. In about 4 days DHL had my old voided passport along with the new one. The outreach saved me two trips to Panama City.

    The young lady who took my application was a Panamanian. She went to Rice University.

  7. Hi and thankssss for this info.!!!
    always helpful, so appreciated… I’m on my way soon to Matagalpa and Miraflor etc etc .and look forward to my newest adventures in this part of Nicaragua!!

      • Hi ,
        No , Im in Florida now .My condo is up for sale and Im still deciding where I want to live,,sooooo, Im heading to the Matagalpa area. Having been in Florida for many years , Im really tired of the heat ( that would be in Granada ) and I love the mountains,,,plus Im thinking of building a cob house and want the chicken and a few goats happening,,,hahahaha…that feel!
        This area seems more conducive to my vision and a few people have mentioned to me its already on the growth path so thats cool too. Will see.. I will be there soon!!!!
        Would you know of anyone living in this area ????

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