Renewing your passport just got easier thanks to a new portal from the U.S. State Department that allows you to complete the process entirely online.
The department is seeking up to 25,000 volunteers in August to try out the new online passport renewal program before the service becomes available to the general public later in 2022. If eligible, this means you no longer have to mail your renewal application and supporting documents to them.
“We will accept applications from volunteers on a first come, first serve basis until we reach 25,000 applicants in this phase of the pilot,” the Department of State Travel’s website says. “If you are not one of the first 25,000 applicants, you may have an opportunity to renew online at a later date.”
The online passport renewal is part of President Joe Biden’s broader initiative to make accessing government services more seamless, whether that’s scheduling a call back from the IRS or applying for Medicare benefits online.
Biden signed an executive order in December 2021 that includes a commitment to improving 36 “customer service experiences” across 17 federal agencies. The order says that in recent years the annual paperwork burden imposed by government agencies on the public has been in excess of 9 billion hours.
Requirements for Renewing Your Passport Online
If you want to renew your passport online, you’ll need to meet some criteria.
While it’s OK if your most recent passport is expired, it needs to be or have been valid for 10 years and you need to be age 25 years or older. Also, your most recent passport needs to have been issued more than nine years ago (in 2013) but less than 15 years ago (in 2007) from the date you plan to submit your application. Travelers must also be applying for a tourist passport, must live in the United States, not planning to travel internationally for at least five weeks from the date an application is submitted, and must not be changing their name, gender, date of birth or place of birth.
Also, once you submit your application, your most recent passport will be canceled and you won’t be able to use it for international travel.
While this new submission process is more streamlined, processing times are, unfortunately, the same as they were by mail. Expect it to take eight to 11 weeks for routine processing and five to seven weeks for an expedited service.
Travelers interested in being among the first to renew their passport online will need to set up a “MyTravelGov” account. Within 24 hours of activating the account, you’ll see an option to “Renew Passport” upon logging in. You can pay for your passport using a credit or debit card or an automatic clearinghouse payment that transfers funds directly from your bank account like a check. You can also upload a digital passport photo to the account.
The last step? Start planning that international vacation!