You can renew U.S. passports online again

Traveler at airport holding United States passport in hand.

The State Department on Wednesday reopened its online passport renewal portal, bringing back a trial service that had not been available for more than a year.

The service, available to a limited number of travelers who meet certain requirements, is part of a beta program intended to streamline the renewal process for Americans. For now the program is available only for routine renewals, not expedited services.

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Every day beginning at 1 p.m. Eastern time, the State Department will accept a limited number of applications. It will gradually increase capacity daily. Once the portal has reached its daily threshold, it will close until the following afternoon, senior State Department officials said in a press briefing.

Applying online does not guarantee a faster processing time, but it does mean skipping some lag time of sending your application by mail.

To be eligible for the online system, travelers must be U.S. citizens and residents 25 and older who have already had a passport with 10-year validity, among other requirements. Here are a few big examples:

- Applicants can’t request a change to their name, gender, date of birth or place of birth in the application.

- They aren’t traveling internationally for at least eight weeks from the day they submitted their application.

- They’re applying only for a regular passport, and they possess their current passport (it can’t be lost, stolen, damaged or mutilated).

- They can pay with a credit card or debit card, or an ACH (automated clearing house) payment, and are able to upload a digital passport photo in the JPEG file format.

- Their recent passport was issued between nine and 15 years before the application date (it can be expired).

The full requirements are available on the State Department website. Those who do not qualify for the online renewal process can still apply by mail.

This is the second round of public testing of the online renewal system, which was first announced in 2021 through an executive order and was paused in March 2023. According to the State Department website, more than 500,000 customers applied during that initiative. Since last spring, the government has continued working on the system in private, carrying out closed testing to improve the portal.

Officials said this next round of public testing should last a couple months, but they would not specify how many applications will be accepted each day. The gradual nature of the release is designed to track user feedback and address issues in a manageable fashion.

Since the application backlog that began snowballing in 2020, the State Department says it has addressed issues and wrangled processing times back to pre-pandemic levels. The agency did see an uptick in wait times last summer after seeing a record number of applications.

Officials say they have “substantially staffed up” and “implemented a number of efficiencies” that have brought processing times down, and they expect to have “no trouble meeting demand” as summer travel ramps up. Routine application services should now take six to eight weeks, and expedited services two to three weeks. Processing times are made public on the State Department website.

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