Online Passport Renewals Are Coming in 2023
Following a successful pilot program for online passport renewal this summer, the U.S. State Department now plans to fully launch an online passport renewals for everyone in early 2023.
Shifting to an online process will eliminate the need for piles of paperwork and hours spent waiting in line at passport offices.
The online renewal option was created following a December 2021 executive order from President Joe Biden, who demanded the federal government “design and deliver services in a manner that people of all abilities can navigate.”
An initial pilot program took place in February for federal government employees and contractors. After that closed, a second program opened Aug. 2 for 25,000 members of the public; it closed to applicants on Aug. 12. State Department officials say they plan to initiate a third pilot program for a limited number of applicants later in September, and then launch the system for all Americans.
The first batch of online applications helped test the functionality and ensure the online passport renewal system operates as designed. There’s no exact timetable for the full launch in 2023.
Currently, processing times for online renewal remain the same as those sent via snail mail. However, you save some time without the need to mail in your documents.
The online process is expected to cut down on paperwork and streamline the process, both for applicants and State Department officials. The agency is hopeful that it will start clearing up a backlog of nearly two million passport applicants that started piling up in early 2020.
On its website, the State Department urges applicants not to renew online if they are traveling internationally in six weeks or less, as their current passport will become invalid as soon as they submit their renewal application.
The US Department of State says it has reduced the backlog of about 2 million applications, but it still estimates that it takes eight to 11 weeks to renew a passport. Early in the pandemic wait times were above 4 months.
Passport renewal fees are the same whether you renew online or via traditional methods: $130 for an adult and $135 for a minor. An additional $60 fee for expedited service also remains the same.
How it Works
To join the pilot program for online passport renewal in September, you’ll need to be ready with a MyTravelGov account and be aware of all the eligibility criteria.
The program requires applicants to meet a specific set of requirements. That includes an age of 25 or older, their most recent passport was valid for 10 years, and their old passport was issued 9-15 years ago.
After creating a MyTravelGov account and wait for approval, a message on the home page will provide you with an option to “Renew Passport,” after the pilot program goes live again in September. You then need to fill out the application, which includes uploading a photo and paying for the renewal online. Travelers could then track their progress through a link while they waited for renewal, which the State Department said typically took as long as renewing normally.
There are also some additional caveats:
- You cannot change your name, gender, or date or place of birth
- You can only renew online for tourist passports, not special issuance
- You must live in the US
- You must be able to pay your passport fees by credit card, debit card or electronic ACH bank transfer
- You must be able to upload an acceptable digital passport photo
- You should be aware that your existing passport will immediately become invalid
The goal is now to execute the program on a larger scale and the same requirements and restrictions will likely apply when it fully launched for all Americans. But if you want to renew online this month, you should keep an eye out on the passport renewal website in order to participate in September pilot program.
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