Travelers who need to renew their passports soon can renew entirely online through a new program from the State Department. The first 25,000 applicants in August to use the Online Passport Renewal Portal will be able to participate in this first-ever pilot program. Slots for the pilot are on a first-come, first-served basis and will stop once the program accepts 25,000 applicants.
After the pilot, the State Department will release the program to the public near the end of 2022. Bringing passport renewals into the digital era is long past due and could benefit travelers in the future. With some Americans waiting months for passport renewals, any update to the process is a welcome one.
Interested In The Pilot?
For travelers interested in taking advantage of the pilot program, act fast! Once space is full, the program won’t be available again until the end of the year. Also, specific requirements apply in order to be able to use the online portal.
- Age 25 or older, with a previous passport with ten-year validity.
- The most recent passport was issued over nine years ago, but less than 15.
- The applicant is not changing their date of birth, gender, place of birth, or name.
- Must not be traveling internationally for the next five weeks.
- Must be applying for a standard passport for tourists.
- Applicant must live in the U.S.
- Must be in possession of previous passport.
For travelers who fit the bill, they will need to create a MyTravelGov account, verify their account via email, and log in to begin their renewal application. Account registration can take up to 24 hours, but once registered, applicants can navigate to the Renew Passport option. Travelers will upload a JPEG passport photo and pay via credit/debit card or bank account. All that’s left after that is to wait! Current wait times are the same as renewing via mail, but who knows what the future may bring? Travelers taking advantage o the program will get updated via email as their renewal is processed.
Why The Change?
The change to a digital platform for renewing passports comes after an executive order instructing the government to create an online system. The idea is to improve efficiency in the process and make it easier on travelers and hopefully easier on government workers. The pilot program will shed light on any bugs in the system before releasing the program to the general public and hopefully improve the renewal process immensely.
What Could The Future Hold?
As stated above, the current processing time when using the online system is the same processing time as the standard renewal process, about five weeks. However, as the State Department begins processing the 25,000 accepted online renewal applications, processing times could improve. If this program aims to improve efficiency, surely that will translate into faster processing times in the future. The process will already save a smaller amount of time because travelers will not have to send in their old passports, shaving off a few days of transit time. Once the program is up and running efficiently, travelers could see passport renewal times decrease significantly.
Tips For Those Interested
The number one tip for those interested in taking advantage of this new service is to act quickly. Once the pilot program reaches 25,000 participants, applicants will no longer see the Renew Passport option in the Portal.
Those who are trying to get the fastest turnaround time possible with the new system should log in to their new MyTravelGov account and upgrade to the expedited service. This will ensure a 1-2 day delivery of your completed passport rather than the standard wait time of up to two weeks. The processing time of your passport will not change, but rather the shipment time. Shaving off the time of shipping your old passport and lessening the return shipment time could save you about two weeks of waiting for your passport renewal to be completed.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com