State Department launches beta program for online passport renewal

Written by on June 12, 2024

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(WASHINGTON) — The State Department has launched a beta program for passport renewal applications that will be open to the public, according to senior officials at the department.

According to the officials, the program will begin by accepting a small number of online applications each day, with that limited number gradually ramping up as time goes on to ensure the State Department “can track any issues that arise and address them quickly and continuously improve the experience for the American people.”

“The goal of online passport renewal is to save Americans time and effort, making it more convenient to renew their U.S. passports,” one senior State Department official said.

Eligible applicants must be 25 or older, live in the United states or one of its territories, currently hold a passport that is or was valid for a 10-year period, was issued between 2009 and 2015, and the biographic data on the document must be accurate and not require any changes to name, gender, date or place of birth.

Applicants should also not have scheduled international travel for at least eight weeks from the point they submit the application and must be requesting routine — not expedited — service.

The officials also noted that once the online application for renewal is submitted, the old passport will be cancelled, and they will be unable to use it to travel internationally.

Officials didn’t specify how long this beta program is expected to run, saying only that it will “continue over the course of the coming months.”

Initially, officials say processing times will be the same as wait times for regular, mail-in renewals, but they anticipate the overall wait will “eventually” be shorter because applicants won’t have to mail in their documents.

The State Department has previously conducted several rounds of testing for the digital system, processing 565,000 online applications to date.

The creation of an online passport renewal process was first announced in 2021 by President Joe Biden. The White House originally anticipated rolling out a finished product much earlier, by the end of 2022.

One senior State Department official explained that the delay was because the administration wanted to ensure the experience of applying for a new passport online was the best it could be, but the department was also bogged down through 2022 and much of 2023 by a backlog of passport applications created by pandemic restrictions.

As for regular passport processing times, the officials say they are still seeing a “strong demand” from the public, but that they should have “no trouble” meeting it and “no significant delays in processing” throughout the year.

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