Biden signs executive order to allow online passport renewals

Dec 14, 2021

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If you’ve ever had to renew your passport, you know it can be a hassle. The COVID-19 pandemic complicated renewing your passport, but it was notoriously difficult even before 2020.

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You typically had to remember when your renewal date was coming up, then drop your passport off at the post office or put it in the mail (which could be problematic if you had travel coming up) and then wait weeks — or sometimes months — for your new passport to arrive.

But now, the White House is making it significantly easier to renew your passport. Biden, on Dec. 13, signed an executive order to direct the State Department to design and deliver a new online passport renewal experience that doesn’t require any physical documents to be mailed.

“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 White House statement. “This new online process will be done with safety and security.”

Neither the executive order nor the fact sheet specified when the policy would go into effect, but travelers will rejoice when it does. Currently, there are three processing methods for renewing a passport, and they vary in cost and turnaround time.

The cheapest is the free Standard method, which takes eight to 11 weeks, while the Expedited method costs $60 and takes five to seven weeks. You can also pay extra for one- to two-day delivery. The quickest method — Expedited at Agency Processing — also has the most hoops to jump through. This method costs $60, but you must have travel planned in the next 72 hours (or three business days) to apply at an agency or center, and there are limited appointments available.

Note the State Department says processing times begin the day it receives your application at a passport agency or center — not the day you mail your application or apply.

If you’re wondering when to renew your passport, the State Department website has a handy calculator to help you figure out your passport renewal options and cost. Generally, you should aim to renew it at least six months before it expires, especially if you have travel coming up to countries that require six months of validity.

Your passport is valid for 10 years if you were 16 or older when it was issued and five years if you were under 16 when it was issued. That means if your passport was issued in September 2012 and you were at least 16 years old, you should aim to renew your passport in March 2022.

Featured photo by Evgenia Parajanian/

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