Good news, American passport-holders: You’re one step closer to being able to renew your passport online.
The US Department of State launched a pilot program to help Americans renew their passports more efficiently by eliminating the need to mail in expired passports and supplementary documents. The first phase of the program is already complete: As of August 12, the agency has accepted 25,000 initial applicants to test out its online passport renewal service. Phase two opened in September and will allow another 25,000 first-come, first-served applicants to trial the service. A broader rollout is expected in 2023.
To qualify for phase two, applicants must be at least 25 years old and renewing a passport that was issued between 2007 and 2013 and is already expired or set to expire within a year. People who’ve previously reported their passports as lost or stolen aren’t eligible to apply, and changes to name, gender, date of birth, and place of birth can’t be updated through the online passport renewal service at this time.
Though one ultimate goal of online passport renewals is to decrease processing times, the State Department currently estimates comparable wait times for electronic and mail-in renewals: eight to 11 weeks for the standard service and five to seven weeks for the $60-extra expedited option. Renewal costs are also the same, excluding postage and mailing fees: $130 for a passport book, $30 for a passport card, and $160 for both.
Nonetheless, if your passport is expiring and you meet all 10 of the agency’s requirements to participate in the pilot program, it’s hard to argue with the convenience of uploading a digital passport photo and entering your payment information electronically. To throw your hat in the ring for phase two, all you have to do is create, verify, and register a MyTravelGov account, then keep an eye out for the “renew passport” option to reappear in September.