(Update) My Initial Thoughts After Renewing A US Passport Online

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Can You Renew A US Passport Online

Can You Renew A US Passport Online

My wife’s passport expired back in 2018 and we decided to wait on renewing her passport until she had plans to travel. No point in paying for years on her passport that wouldn’t be used. The pandemic drew that out a bit longer than expected as well. Luckily, you can renew an expired passport within 15 years of the date it was issued. She was coming up on 14 years so I decided to get it done. Plus, she is considering of pivoting her birthday trip to Hawaii for Christmas Markets in Europe so now was the time. As luck would have it the online renewal process was open for beta testing. So to answer the question of, can you renew a US passport online? You could, for a short while at least, and will be able to next year. I’ll share my thoughts after getting the change to test out the online renewal process this week.

Update 11/26/22: We applied for my wife’s renewal in the morning on 11/8/22. We paid for rush service and expedited shipping and received the Passport in the mail on 11/19/22. That is an impressive turn around.

RELATED: How to Renew Your US Passport, Step-by-Step Guide

When Did The Option To Renew A US Passport Online Close?

The test run to renew a passport online was open once again late in October. It officially shut down to new enrollees on October 26th at 3PM ET. If you signed up for an account before then you can still process everything after that date.

Wouldn’t you know it, I signed up my wife for an account on October 26th at 12:30PM. Talk about just in time! We didn’t actually complete the process until November 8th.

Can You Renew A US Passport Online

How Does Renewing A US Passport Online Work?

The process was actually surprisingly easy. I put it off for a while because I thought it could be tedious, or time consuming. When I renewed my US passport years back I did the mail in option which was much better than the in person process. After using this new program I can firmly say that I prefer the online process though.

The first thing we needed to do was sign up for a MyTravelGov Account since she didn’t already have one. I was ready to complete everything else right then but the email said it would take around 4 hours to open the account.  She needed to come back to finish the passport process after that timeframe. Later that day was not good for us so we pushed it off for a bit.

We finally found some time a few weeks later and went through the US Passport online renewal process. It took around 20 minutes all and all, and that was with some technical difficulties.

US Passport Online Renewal Steps

The steps were pretty straightforward. They asked for her expired passport number, personal info, and names she has had in the past (maiden name) etc. Pretty much like filling out a credit card application. Those pages were pretty quick and easy. There were 4-5 of them if I remember correctly. Then came the time for uploading her passport photo. This is where things got a bit hairy.

She had gone to CVS to get a passport photo done just in case I needed to go the mail in route. It looks like that isn’t necessary, but I am glad we did. We initially just tried to scan it and send it that way. The program rejected it for being too small. After that I tried taking a new picture of her with my phone. The background has to be static and white. The program didn’t like my white brick background and the shadows we were getting from the light was a no go. That is when I decided to try sending the CVS photo scan through a photo resizing program we use for the site. I then tried uploading it again and success! My last ditch effort would have been to take a picture of the CVS photo with my phone.

Side Benefit Of Renewing Your US Passport Online

Once the photo was uploaded it was time to pay. Here is where a nice side benefit of online renewals comes into play, besides it being easier overall, is you can pay with a credit card. I selected a rush order and expedited shipping in case she wanted to switch up our upcoming trip and the cost was just over $200. I have no idea why you can pay with a credit card online but not with other renewal options but I’ll take it.

US Passport Renewal: Final Thoughts

Overall the process was quick and easy and the added benefit of being able to pay with a credit card is a nice side benefit. I plan on renewing my passport this way the next time it expires. I’ll update everyone once we get it in the mail so we have a timeline of how long the process took.

Has anyone else renewed their passport online with these couple rounds of beta testing? What did you think of the process?

Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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14 COMMENTS

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14 COMMENTS

  1. Great info Mark-thank you. Can you renew before your passport actually expiries–and how many months before actual expiration? Also for how many months should your passport remain valid when you travel abroad. I’ve heard of people having issues with passports within 6 months of expiration. Is the problem typically US border control or foreign border control.

    • I think you can renew up to 9 months before it expires. The issues would likely be with foreign border control and how much time needs to be left depends on where you are going.

  2. I had issues with them accepting photo. Error message wouldn’t accept passport picture from Walgreens. Said my head was tilted. Walgreens redid photo. Received quickly in mail.

  3. I renewed online, expedited, in August and got my PP in 20 days. Would have been faster, but it got stuck in an outbox Friday PM, instead of getting mailed.

  4. It was fantastic. The site was seamless and I had no issues taking my photo with my cellphone in the kitchen. I did not pay for the expedited process and had my passport in my hand within 6 weeks. It was perfect and painless.

  5. A good tip for selfie (or assisted) passport photos — stand a few feet away from the wall and have a light pointing up from behind your feet. This will blow away any shadows, then use your camera flash to get a good lit up face. Haven’t paid for a passport photo for my extended family in over 15 years by doing this and printing on an inkjet on photo paper, or this time uploading for the online renewal.

  6. The photo quality being too low was the only problem I ran into also. I asked for a digital copy instead of printed, but they didn’t take a good enough original. I had a friend use my phone to take one of me standing in front of a whiteboard instead and they took that one.

  7. The only issue I see is the fact that you can’t travel internationally while this one is in the process. As soon as you apply, you current passport is no longer good. 🙁

    • Similar to if you mail it in though – you lose that passport while they are processing the new one too.

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