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Should I Discard OLD Passport? – NEVER!
If you are a US Citizen living outside of the United States, please take heed to our suggestion/advice, never discard your old passport after it has been renewed with a new one.
In many foreign countries, i.e., Costa Rica, Expats will use their passport as a form of identification (bank accounts, property purchases, legal documentation, etc..) before obtaining a cédula de identidad. This is an accepted practice, but problems can arise when the US passport expires or is lost, and a new passport is re-issued.
Unlike Costa Rica, the passport number for a US Passport does not stay the same as the original US passport when it is renewed/re-issued.
As a result, discarding the original passport can cause problems when it comes time to reference the original US Passport used in old documentation. Below is a quoted testimonial from an Expat in Costa Rica that was affected by discarding their old US Passport:
“WARNING!!! Never discard your US passport. We bought a condo here 11 years ago and had to renew our passports a couple of months later. Then this year, we had to file forms reaffirming that our corporation for the condo was an inactive corporation. We needed our original passport as ID (which we no longer had). You see, in Costa Rica, passport numbers do not change as they do in the US. We needed to prove that we were truly who we said we were. There are a couple of ways to do this, but we chose to have our lawyer do it faster. Unfortunately, it will take 2 – 3 weeks, and as we need to complete the renewal in a certain period, we will be late and will probably be fined $375 USD. We learned along the way to never throw away documents in this country, but that was after we got rid of our old passports. This is my tale of woe. We need to get a larger safe.”
As a rule-of-thumb, it is suggested that when you get a new passport or a cédula de identidad, update your documents (including bank accounts) to avoid this problem altogether.
We hope this has been helpful to you.
Addendum: This applies to any foreigner using their passport on documentation.