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U.S. Begins Testing Online Passport Renewals, How You Can Participate

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The U.S. Department of State has great news for anyone looking to renew their passport: It’s launching an online program to do just that.Photo credit: GoncharukMaks / Shutterstock.com

If you’ve ever wished you could renew your U.S. passport online, the U.S. Department of State has great news for you: It’s launching a program to do just that.

You can even help test the pilot program if you’re eligible — but you’ll need to act fast.

“To test the portal, we are seeking up to 25,000 applicants in August,” the State Department explains. “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. If you are not one of the first 25,000 applicants, you may have an opportunity to renew online at a later date.”

Indeed, the U.S. State Department further explains that it will make the online passport renewal process available to the general public later this year.

The Passport Renewal System’s Origins

The online passport renewal system concept has been discussed for several years, but it took on new urgency late last year when President Biden signed the Executive Order known as “Transforming Federal Customer Experience and Service Delivery to Rebuild Trust in Government.”

That order, which was created “to solve the complex 21st-century challenges our Nation faces,” notes that the “Government must be held accountable for designing and delivering services with a focus on the actual experience of the people whom it is meant to serve,” President Biden wrote.

“Americans will be able to renew their passports securely online, saving time from having to wait, and the effort and cost required to print, go to a post office, and use a paper check,” according to a fact sheet from the White House. “This new online process will be done with safety and security.”

The Online Renewal Process

Travelers are eligible to renew U.S. passports online if they meet numerous requirements, including that their most-recent passport is or was valid for 10 years and that applicants are 25 years or older. Their recent passport must also have been issued more than 9 years ago but less than 15 years ago.

The flip side of the coin is that some travelers won’t be able to use the system. For example, travelers who need to change their name, gender, date of birth, or place of birth are not eligible to renew their passport online.

Those who are eligible only need to follow a few steps.

First, create a MyTravelGov account. After the account is created, applicants will receive an “account verification” email requesting that they verify the account was created.

After verification, travelers will need to wait approximately 24 hours for the State Department to create their account. They can then login to their MyTravelGov account and begin renewing their passport.

As you would expect, applicants will need to upload a digital passport photo using a JPEG file and pay all passport fees online using a credit card, debit card, or Automated Clearing House payment that transfers funds from their bank account.

Know Before You Renew

The State Department explains that the processing time is the same, whether an applicant renews their passport by mail or using the online system. Currently, “routine” processing takes between 8 and 11 weeks while “expedited” processing takes between 5 and 7 weeks.

Applicants who do renew their passport online will receive email updates about their application. Alternatively, they can check their application status in their MyTravelGov account.

You can learn more about the U.S. online passport renewal pilot program here.

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