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 mailing or bringing in your physical passport and supporting documents.
Starting in March, the U.S. Department of State plans to expand its current pilot program to allow Americans 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 — the department has conducted limited pilot programs for more people. As of August 2022, more than 500,000 customers had successfully submitted an application online, according to the latest State Department update.
Starting Feb. 13, the online portal is temporarily closed until at least March, when the department expects to resume online applications.
“We plan to reopen the portal to new customers in March,” the State Department says.
How to renew your passport online
To renew online, you must meet specific qualifications, including being at least 25 years old. Applicants must also renew 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 with 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.
Current wait times for processing are eight to 11 weeks for routine service and five to seven weeks for expedited service.
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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 here. To submit your application, start by creating a MyTravelGov account online.
From there, applicants should receive an email with a link to verify their accounts. 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.
You’ll then 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.
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,” an 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 March, see here.