International money order/bank check to renew US passport

28 posts in this topic

Hi all,

I need to renew my US passport, and the instructions say I have to pay in one of the following ways:

 

Accepted payment methods are:

  • International Money Orders: American Express or U.S. Postal Service money orders made payable to “U.S. Department of State” (please note that German money orders are only valid for one month);
  • Bank checks (also known as counter checks)

All money orders and  checks must be machine-readable (i.e., have a coded line running along the bottom of the check). Checks cannot be older than 30 days from issuance to submission for passport renewal.  No personal checks will be accepted. No credit cards are accepted through the mail until further notice. Applications with credit card information postmarked after November 30, 2017 will be returned.  Please do not send cash through the mail. Applications with cash, credit card information, EC card information, or otherwise not meeting the instructions for payment will be promptly returned to the sender.

So my question is where can I get one of those money orders or bank checks. I would go to my bank for a bank check, but they specifically require that the fees be paid in US$, and I highly doubt German banks do that. Any ideas?

Thanks!
 

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I read the same instructions, and am in a similar situation.  After a bit of searching, it seems like a bank check is essentially a cashier's check.  Did you have any luck having your bank issue one denominated in dollars?

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you are near a consulate (or will be at any point), they accept euros in person. Otherwise, may be worth emailing them to ask how to get an acceptable check- they seem to be surprisingly responsive.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On January 8, 2018 at 12:16:09 AM, GiulianaT said:

Hi all,

I need to renew my US passport, and the instructions say I have to pay in one of the following ways:

 

Accepted payment methods are:

  • International Money Orders: American Express or U.S. Postal Service money orders made payable to “U.S. Department of State” (please note that German money orders are only valid for one month);
  • Bank checks (also known as counter checks)

All money orders and  checks must be machine-readable (i.e., have a coded line running along the bottom of the check). Checks cannot be older than 30 days from issuance to submission for passport renewal.  No personal checks will be accepted. No credit cards are accepted through the mail until further notice. Applications with credit card information postmarked after November 30, 2017 will be returned.  Please do not send cash through the mail. Applications with cash, credit card information, EC card information, or otherwise not meeting the instructions for payment will be promptly returned to the sender.

So my question is where can I get one of those money orders or bank checks. I would go to my bank for a bank check, but they specifically require that the fees be paid in US$, and I highly doubt German banks do that. Any ideas?

Thanks!
 

 

I am having this same problem. I contacted the American Citizens Services and was told that they ONLY accept money orders or cashier's checks issued in USD, not Euro -- but that most banks should be able to do this. So far I have contacted two banks (Targo and Sparkasse), who informed me that this is not possible -- Bundesbankschecks can only be made in Euro. 

 

I have also read on other forums that Western Union isn't an option, since their money orders must be addressed to a specific person, and not an entity such as the US Dept. of State. So, as I see it, the only way to pay them is to get someone to mail you a money order from the US. So stupid...

3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As an update, I was informed that beginning March 1, 2018, US passports can be applied for in Berlin by going to the consulate, without an appointment -- and you can pay with Euros or USD.

 

 

4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, eliotstreet said:

As an update, I was informed that beginning March 1, 2018, US passports can be applied for in Berlin by going to the consulate, without an appointment -- and you can pay with Euros or USD.

 

 

 

This is amazing news as I will be renewing mine in late March. Thank you!

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just wanted to follow-up.  I went into my local bank (Volksbank) and explained that I needed a Bank Check, denominated in dollars.  And the teller was an Azubi, but she knew where to start asking.  She asked around, and called a more central branch (in Münster?), and ascertained it was not an issue at all.  The fee was nominal (15EUR), and the $110USD would simply be deducted directly from my account (in the corresponding EUR amount).  A few days later, she called be back to come pick up my check.  The issuing bank printed on the check was actually Chase Bank, with a New York address. 

 

I did run into the issue of to whom the check should be addressed; the form required both a payee and an address; I listed the US Dept of State as the payee, and used the consulate address in Frankfurt to which the renewal package was sent.  

 

Two weeks later, I have a renewed passport along with a receipt for $110.

6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Kind of a necropost, but this was the most recent thread I found when googling the issue. I just went through this myself, and I figured I would post my experience, in case anyone else is in the same boat. I went to multiple banks and Western Unions, and in the end, I had to go to Frankfurt. As far as I understand, there are currently three options.

 

1. Get a check in Germany.

Western Union is useless, and the Embassy even told me it was a waste of time when I called them. Why they put it on their website, I don't know.

Try talking to your bank. Like Scott T said, some banks can do it for you. Unfortunately, Sparkasse seems to be a bit of a hit-or-miss. My Sparkasse (Mainz) can't get the right check for me. For some reason, Sparkasse Köln/Bonn can supposedly do it, but since I'm not technically a "Köln/Bonn" customer but rather a "Mainz" customer, they wouldn't order it for me (even though you need to pay a fee even if you are a customer, but whatever). In the end, I could not get a check, despite checking almost 10 different places (either because they couldn't do it, or because I wasn't their customer).

 

2. Get a money order from the USA.
You will need a friend or family member to go to the post office or bank and get a money order (you know, like they did in the '90s...) and simply mail it to you here. Once you get it, you can then send it to the embassy. Quite obnoxious and time consuming, but it's an option.

 

3. Go to the embassy.

This is ultimately what I just did today in Frankfurt. You can make a reservation online, and at the embassy you can pay however you want—euros or dollars in cash as well as credit cards are accepted. I paid with my German debit card no problem. 

It's annoying to have to travel all the way here, but I luckily know people in the area whose couch I could crash on. If you don't know people, I suppose a hostel might be in order unless you can come and go in the same day.

Side note: while the security guards did say it was subject to change at any time, you can currently leave your phones in a coat-check sort of box by the entrance, despite what the website says. They did stress that it was subject to the boss's whim though, so no guarantees if they'll still offer the phone check in the future.

Hopefully this prevents someone else from going on a wild goose chase for a check in Germany, like the one I went on :-D

4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
46 minutes ago, phantom16 said:

Hopefully this prevents someone else from going on a wild goose chase for a check in Germany, like the one I went on :-D
 

 

Great post!

 

You might want to inform your Embassy of this great new invention call bank transfers. ;) The Canadian Embassy has been accepting this form of payment for years (if not decades).

4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I need to get my passport renewed and am in the same situation right now. I went to Commerzbank a couple of days ago for the check. They made me fill a form. They also required an address. When I told them that all I had was "US Department of State", they told me to at least write down the city. They took the form and told me that I would get the check in a few days by post. But today I got a call from them informing that they do not draw checks on US banks, and that I need the beneficiaries bank details. So I guess it isn't possible with my bank.

 

I emailed the consulate in Frankfurt just now, asking if there is any other form of payment acceptable. I will update it here as soon as I get a reply.

 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just received a reply from the Consulate. It contains the exact same information as on the website, with an added line "Applicants who are unable to utilize one of the accepted payment methods listed on our website, can apply for a passport in person and pay the fee in cash (U.S. Dollar or Euro) or with a credit card". So I guess I have to go to the Consulate to renew... 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have never gotten a bank check or money order so I don't know the process.

 

My US friend working in HH at the moment needs a money order in USD for the Swiss Embassy in NY for the VISA for his next job.

 

I called Haspa and they would not issue a 3rd party bank check.  money laundering yadda yadda yadda..ok, i get it

 

Does the bank check have senders name on it or does it just say 100 bucks payable to the Swiss Emabassy?

( can I just get a bank check and then give it to him? }

 

If he goes to Western Union or Reise Bank with 100 bucks cash. i  am guessing that is possible but how long does it take?

 

 

 

 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Has anyone tried using their US based bank's (free of charge) bill payment service to have a check issued for a passport renewal?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/2/2020, 9:19:24, willyg said:

Has anyone tried using their US based bank's (free of charge) bill payment service to have a check issued for a passport renewal?

Since no one answered, I tried this and it was successful. I thought I would share my hack here in case it helps someone else. Here are the steps:

  1. In your US bank's online banking, set up a new payee:
    US Department of State
    c/o your_name
    your_street
    Set the City to "your city, Germany" and the State to Delaware (DE). Set the zip code to your German postcode. This gets around the limitation of only US addresses being accepted.
  2. Make a bill payment for $110 (current cost of renewal by mail). If asked for a payment reference, enter your name.
  3. Wait for bank to mail a paper check and for the check to land in your German mailbox
  4. Send passport renewal application to the US Consulate in Frankfurt
  5. Check online banking to confirm check has cleared
  6. Wait for new passport

Although I haven't yet received the renewed passport, I can confirm that the check from my bank made it through the international mail to my German address and that the check has now been fully cleared. I didn't pay any service charges and it was much easier than trying to find a USD cashier's check or money order in Germany!

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is what I will try, thanks. If it doesn't work, it'd be easier to go to the consulate in person, I think.

 

The only difference is that I'd request my check to my US address, as my banks don't have my German address.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/21/2020, 5:03:13, kaffeemitmilch said:

The only difference is that I'd request my check to my US address, as my banks don't have my German address.

It should not matter which address the bank holds. As far as they know, you aren't having the check sent to you. You're paying a bill to a third party (the US Government) whose address just happens to be c/o you. So why not skip a step and have the check sent to your German address? Let us know if it works for you!

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good evening everyone,

This is a semi-old thread but I now in need of renewing my passport.  @willyg Did you get your passport without any issues?  How does the bank know to send the checks to Germany and not to Delaware?   My bank in Ohio is a bit difficult :(.

 

In the meantime, has anyone else used this hack and did it work?  

On 14.7.2020, 11:06:08, willyg said:

Since no one answered, I tried this and it was successful. I thought I would share my hack here in case it helps someone else. Here are the steps:

  1. In your US bank's online banking, set up a new payee:
    US Department of State
    c/o your_name
    your_street
    Set the City to "your city, Germany" and the State to Delaware (DE). Set the zip code to your German postcode. This gets around the limitation of only US addresses being accepted.
  2. Make a bill payment for $110 (current cost of renewal by mail). If asked for a payment reference, enter your name.
  3. Wait for bank to mail a paper check and for the check to land in your German mailbox
  4. Send passport renewal application to the US Consulate in Frankfurt
  5. Check online banking to confirm check has cleared
  6. Wait for new passport

Although I haven't yet received the renewed passport, I can confirm that the check from my bank made it through the international mail to my German address and that the check has now been fully cleared. I didn't pay any service charges and it was much easier than trying to find a USD cashier's check or money order in Germany!

 

Thanks for your help!

 

 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, eaglerunner said:

Good evening everyone,

This is a semi-old thread but I now in need of renewing my passport.  @willyg Did you get your passport without any issues?  How does the bank know to send the checks to Germany and not to Delaware?   My bank in Ohio is a bit difficult :(.

 

In the meantime, has anyone else used this hack and did it work?  

 

Thanks for your help!

 

 

Yes, the passport came through fine. And as mentioned, include Germany in the city field (e.g. "Frankfurt, Germany"). These bill payment checks get processed mostly automatically on the bank's side, they just have to print the check using the address you entered. When it hits the post office they know what to do with it and not to send to Delaware. Let us know if it works for you!

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now