If you have ever had to renew a passport, you know how time-consuming and involved the application can be. Typically, the process involves printing forms, getting photos taken, writing a check and going to the post office to mail everything, along with your existing passport.
VERIFY reader Kyley asked us about this tweet with more than 170,000 thousand likes that claimed the passport renewal process can now be done virtually, instead of by mail.
“As of October 11th, you can renew your US passport online,” the tweet said. “Just a heads up.”
The replies to the tweet were filled with people questioning the process.
Can you now renew your passport online?
Yes, you can renew your passport online — if you meet certain criteria.
WHAT WE FOUND
The government is testing a new online process for renewing passports, and you can test it out if you meet certain criteria, according to the State Department.
The initiative involves a series of “pilot programs,” or windows during which people can apply online to have their passports renewed. The first such pilot program closed in August after the State Department accepted 25,000 online applications. Another round ran in September. Most recently, the portal opened again on Oct. 11, and is still accepting applications.
The pilot program is part of a government initiative intended to update and streamline government services and websites.
On Dec. 13, 2021, President Joe Biden issued an executive order meant to tackle what he called “time taxes,” or time Americans lose waiting for lengthy government bureaucracies to deliver services. The order instructed the secretary of state to create an “online passport renewal experience that does not require any physical documents to be mailed.”
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A fact sheet released with the executive order said the new system will eliminate the need to print documents, go to the post office and use paper checks. Processing times are still the same as they are for mailed passports. Routine passport services take 7-10 weeks and expedited processing takes 4-6 weeks, according to the State Department.
In order to apply, you must create a MyTravelGov account. Then, you can complete an application, upload a digital photo and pay online. Online applicants won’t need to mail their current passport, as is required for paper applications, but existing passports will be invalidated at the time of online application.
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Not everyone can renew their passport online. You must meet the following criteria to be eligible:
- You are at least 25 years old, and your most recent passport is/was valid for at least 10 years
- Your most recent passport, current or expired, was issued over 9 years ago (in 2013), but less than 15 years ago (in 2007) from the date you plan to submit your application
- You are not changing your name, gender, date of birth or place of birth
- You are not traveling internationally for at least six weeks from the date you will submit your application
- You are applying for a regular (tourist) passport
- You live in the United States
- You have your passport with you, and it is not damaged or mutilated, and you have not previously reported it as lost or stolen.
- You can pay for your passport online using a credit card or ACH payment
- You can upload a digital passport photo (.JPEG file format)
- You are aware that your most recent passport will be immediately invalidated (canceled) when you submit your application and you cannot use it for international travel
When the current October pilot closes, the State Department plans to open another one in November.
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