Never Discard OLD Passports
If you are a U.S. Citizen living outside of the United States, please take heed to our suggestion/advice, never discard your old passports 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 for (bank accounts, property purchases, legal documentation, etc..), prior to obtaining a cédula de identidad. This is an accepted practice but problems can arise when the U.S. passport expires or is lost and a new passport is re-issued.
Unlike Costa Rica, the passport number for a U.S. Passport does not stay the same as the original U.S. passport when it is renewed/re-issued.
As a result of this, discarding the original passport can cause problems for when it comes time to reference the original U.S. Passport used in old documentation. Below is a quoted testimonial from an Expat in Costa Rica that was affected by discarding their old U.S. 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. Lo and behold 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. There 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 as it as faster. Unfortunately, it will take 2 – 3 weeks and as we need to complete the renewal in a certain time period we will be late and will most probably be fined $375. We learned along the way to never throw away documents in this country but that was after we apparently got rid of our old passports. This is my tale of woe. I think 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.