Story at a glance
- Renewing your passport is a lengthy and oftentimes tedious process.
- A new program run by the U.S. Department of State hopes to simplify the process, by allowing citizens to complete renewals online.
- The next phase of the pilot program is expected to open to the public in October.
International travel may soon become a little less hectic for Americans with expired passports.
Last week, the U.S. State Department launched the second phase of a pilot program that allows volunteers to test out renewing their passports online.
Although the department reached its monthly goal and is no longer accepting new customers, it plans to reopen the online renewal service again in October.
In the interim, citizens must renew their passports in person or through the mail.
Once implemented on a broad scale, which is expected to take place in early 2023, the process will cut down on lengthy times and lines travelers currently experience when looking to update their passports.
“We are committed to the President’s Executive Order on Transforming Federal Customer Experience and Service Delivery to Rebuild Trust in Government,” a State Department spokesperson told USA Txoday, referring to a Biden administration initiative announced in 2021.
The order is intended to make government services more equitable and effective.
“Delivering on this promise, we are working toward providing a secure online passport renewal option. Our new online system will save Americans money, time, and effort, making it much more convenient to renew their passports,” the spokesperson said.
In August, the department conducted a similar program that upgraded passports for 25,000 members of the public. The enrollment limit was reached within 10 days of launch.
To be eligible for the program, individuals have to meet certain requirements, including being at least 25 years old and holding a passport that is or was valid for 10 years.
Online renewal fees are the same for in-person or mail renewal: $130 for an adult and $135 for a minor.
Individuals’ most recent passports also must have been issued over nine years ago but less than 15 years ago, and participants should not plan on traveling internationally within six weeks of submitting their application. Participants looking to change their name, gender, date of birth or place of birth cannot partake in the pilot program.
Officials expect online processing times will be the same as those for renewal by mail at around eight to 11 weeks, but volunteers have the option to pay $60 more for expedited services which would take between five to seven weeks.
Participants must also create a MyTravelGov account to partake in the pilot program, and once the program is open again, will be able to start the process within four hours of creating their account.
Volunteers are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis, and both passport cards and passport books can be renewed in the program. After individuals start the application process, they have 30 days to complete it.
In addition, once individuals apply for a new passport online, their current passport becomes invalid.
A full list of requirements can be found on the program’s website.