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State Department plans to widely open online passport renewal system in 2023

Sept. 26, 2022
5 min read
person holding passport
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Editor’s note: This story has been updated.


If you’ve been putting off renewing your U.S. passport, you can soon avoid the logistical hassle of having to mail or bring in your physical passport and supporting documents.

Starting early next year, the U.S. Department of State plans to expand its current pilot program to give Americans the option to widely renew passports online. This follows successful pilot programs limited to a certain number of applicants.

Status of online passport renewal program

Since its initial launch — which the agency opened up to 25,000 applicants on a first-come, first-served basis earlier this year — the department has since conducted limited pilot programs for more people; it expects to continue programs throughout 2022, with the next one in October.

As of Sept. 17, the online portal is temporarily closed until at least mid-October, when the department expects to begin resuming online applications.

"We have reached our monthly goal of accepting applications during this second phase of the pilot program," per the State Department. "We are temporarily closing down the online renewal service to new customers and plan to reopen it again in October."

U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT

How to renew your passport online

Once the agency opens up the online renewal system, either via another pilot program or a permanent system, you'll need to meet specific qualifications to be eligible.

To renew online, travelers must be at least 25 years old. They must also be renewing a passport that was previously valid for 10 years, issued between 2007 and 2013 and set to expire within one year or already expired. Those wishing to change their name, gender, date or place of birth on their next passport cannot do so online.

Additionally, those who have international travel plans within the next six weeks should not attempt to renew online since processing times for the online renewal service will be the same as those for renewal by mail.

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Current wait times for processing are seven to 10 weeks for routine service and four to six weeks for expedited service — down from August.

U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT

Travelers can renew both passport books and cards online for the same fees as non-online renewals. Specifically, it costs $130 for a passport book, $30 for a passport card and $160 for a passport book and card.

“Please note if you have a passport book and want a passport card only, OR if you have a passport card and want a passport book only, you cannot renew online,” according to the State Department.

To be considered for online renewal, you must meet all of the above qualifications, plus others detailed online. To submit your application, start by creating a MyTravelGov account online.

U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT

From there, applicants should receive an email to verify their accounts, containing a link to do so. Within 24 hours, the State Department should register your account. Then, you can log in to your MyTravelGov account and begin your application.

“I only had to wait four hours after creating my account,” TPG senior marketing manager Caroline English said. “Then, I was prompted to renew my passport on the homepage.”

After that, you’ll need to verify you meet eligibility requirements before proceeding with the application, as shown below.

U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT

From there, you’ll complete the application, which includes uploading a JPEG photo of yourself for your new passport. Caroline suggests using an app, such as Passport Booth, to help take and upload a photo.

“The app made it really easy, but it was still super stressful since I have minimal shadows on my face and was worried about them rejecting it,” she told me.

Other than the photo, the rest of the application is relatively straightforward.

Bottom line

"We will continue to conduct limited pilot programs for the public in the leadup to the full public launch, anticipated early next year," a State Department spokesperson confirmed via email.

The pilot programs follow an executive order by President Joe Biden in December 2021 for the agency to implement a new online passport renewal experience that doesn’t require any physical documents to be mailed.

"This is a step in delivering on our promise to provide optimal customer service for U.S. passport applicants and we remain committed to improving the customer experience and making the process of attaining a U.S. passport easier," the agency spokesperson said.

Applicants should receive regular email updates about the status of their applications, as non-online applicants do.

For the latest information on the status of this program, including when it reopens in October, see here.

Read more:

Additional reporting by Sean Cudahy.

Featured image by GETTY IMAGES
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
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  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more