Passport
Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

Renew Your Passport Online With This New Pilot Program — But…

This may be your passport to convenience.

As part of the fulfillment of a promise from the president of the United States to “improve customer service and service delivery for the American people”, the Bureau of Consulate Affairs of the Department of State of the United States has launched a pilot program for passports to be renewed online instead of via postal mail or in person.

Renew Your Passport Online With This New Pilot Program — But…

Passport
Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

“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”, Joseph Biden said on Monday, December 13, 2021. “This new online process will be done with safety and security.”

The pilot program for renewal of passports began in August of 2022, with a maximum limit of 25,000 applicants per month who are accepted on a first come, first serve basis — and according to this official update on Saturday, September 17, 2022:

We have reached our monthly goal of accepting applications during this second phase of the pilot program. Thank you for volunteering and testing our system. We are temporarily closing down the online renewal service to new customers and plan to reopen it again in October. We will post updates on this page by mid-October.

If you activated your MyTravelGov account before 12:24 p.m. ET on September 17, you can still submit and manage your application online if you meet the requirements on this page.

If you activated your MyTravelGov account after 12:24 p.m. ET on September 17, you will need to wait until October to submit your application online. If you do not want to wait until October, you may renew by mail or in-person (if you are eligible).

If you are eligible to participate in this pilot program, you will no longer have to send your application and supporting documents to renew your passport via postal mail. You can follow the steps to renew your passport online in this video.

Eligibility of Online Renewal of Passports

You are eligible to renew online if:

  1. Your most recent passport is or was valid for 10 years, and you are age 25 or older.
  2. Your recent passport was issued greater than nine years ago — in 2013 — but fewer than 15 years ago — in 2007 — from the date you plan to submit your application. Your passport can be expired.
  3. You are not changing your name, gender, date of birth, or place of birth.
  4. You are not traveling internationally for at least six weeks from the date you will submit your application. Processing times for the online renewal service will be the same as those for renewal by mail. Both routine and expedited service will be offered.
  5. You are applying for a regular or tourist passport. You cannot renew a special issuance — such as diplomatic, official, service — passport online.
  6. You live in either a state or territory in the United States. You do not qualify to renew online if you live in a foreign country or have an Army Post Office — or APO — address or Fleet Post Office — or FPO — address.
  7. You have your passport with you, and it is not damaged or mutilated, and you have not previously reported it as lost or stolen.
  8. You can pay for your passport using a credit card or debit card or an ACH — or Automated Clearing House — payment transferring funds from your bank account.
  9. You can upload a digital passport photograph in .JPEG file format — and you can save money by creating your own photographs for your passport.
  10. You are aware that your most recent passport will be immediately invalidated or canceled when you submit your application and you cannot use it for international travel.
Passport
Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

If you do not qualify to renew your passport online but do need to renew your passport, you may be able to renew your passport by mail or arrive in person. You must have been at least 16 years of age when you got your last passport, which must have been issued within the last 15 years and is not damaged.

In addition to routine service — which currently takes between seven weeks and ten weeks — expedited service of between four weeks and six weeks will be offered for an extra fee. Travelers who submit an application for the renewal of their passports online will then receive updates about its status via e-mail messages.

If you are eligible to participate in the pilot program, you are required to create a MyTravelGov account, activate it, and wait up to 24 hours for the account to be registered. You will receive an e-mail message shortly after you create your account with instructions on how to activate your account. Once your account is registered and activated, you can log in and start your application by clicking the option to Renew Passport.

Renewing your passport will cost you $130.00 for the passport book — the fee increased by $20.00 on Monday, December 27, 2021 — and an additional $60.00 if you want to expedite it. You can also pay an extra $18.32 for one day to two day delivery.

In addition to its online plans, the State Department of the United States is hosting special passport fairs across the United States — most of which are geared toward first-time applicants and children.

Final Boarding Call

Online renewals are scheduled to be officially available to the general public as soon as later this year in 2022 — although the actual launch date may be in 2023.

Do not expect processing times for applications for renewals of passports online to improve, as the processing times will be the same as passports which are renewed by postal mail. Renewing passports online is only a convenience which should save the cost of postage and not require physical handling of sending off the passport by postal mail — especially if you need to use that passport while waiting for the new one to arrive.

As the process of applying for a renewal of a passport online should help to reduce stress while simultaneously be more convenient, I like the ideas of:

  • Getting updates via e-mail messages of the status of my new passport; and
  • Saving money on postage and supplies by not having to physically send the passport via postal mail

I do not like that the current passport immediately becomes invalid once one applies for a new passport online.

If you want to be one of the 25,000 participants in this pilot program in October of 2022, keep your eye on the aforementioned web site for the official update — and who knows: you might even score one of the next generation United States passports.

All photographs ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

  1. The UK allows renewal of passports online (as well as applying for passports for the first time). This will be a huge improvement, especially when, as is the case in the UK, they allow children’s passports to be renewed this way. Eliminating the need to submit paperwork is one way this is better than the UK version.

  2. A few states have free voter ID. I would be in favor of reducing passport fees, even if it results in a money losing passport agency. The US has one of the highest passport costs, outdone only by major country Australia and Italy. Venezuela charges more but they are a dictatorship trying to keep people in the country.

    According to one source,

    Austria, Ireland, Netherland, and Portugal are about $75-80.

    Germany, Luxembourg, Finland, and Singapore are about $60-65.

    Taiwan is $43.

    Spain is $33.

    The US charges $130 for renewals, $165 ($130+$35 extra fee) for first time passports.

    1. For some people, a $130 passport is only used for one trip, resulting in a trip charge of $130. That’s starting to sound like the US government is like Spirit Airlines.

      For others, a $130 passport is used 9 times or about $15 per trip.

      A few people use their passports 30-100 times, making it cost $1.30 to $4 per trip.

      Note that this is simplified because some people visit 2 regions and multiple countries, like the UK then Germany then Israel, which can be counted as one trip or 3 trips.

  3. You wrote, “Renewing passports online is…a convenience…especially if you need to use that passport while waiting for the new one to arrive.” But you also wrote, “…your most recent passport will be immediately invalidated or canceled when you submit your application and you cannot use it for international travel.” I think the latter is correct; am I right? Or am I misunderstanding something?

    1. The latter is correct, Jim F. Thank you for pointing that out.

      I intend to correct that part of the article…

  4. I was in the first trial ealier this year and received my Passport 18 days after I submitted the renewal online. The updates on the progress will hopefully improve, I received my Passport and it never changed from ‘In Progress’. The hardest part for me was getting a good Passport photo, plenty of free online, and app options to help you take it with a white background though.

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience of renewing your passport online, TybeeDawg. The information was helpful; and I appreciate it.

      As for taking a photograph for your passport and ensuring that it is compliant with the official regulations, I did cover that in this article, which may be due for a refresh:

      https://thegate.boardingarea.com/stupid-tip-of-the-day-create-your-own-passport-photographs/

      Paying less than a dollar for two passport photographs is certainly better than paying $15.00…

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