You Can Renew Your Passport Online Again, if You’re Lightning Fast     – CNET

You Can Renew Your Passport Online Again, if You’re Lightning Fast – CNET

Renewing US passports, one of the most annoying bureaucratic chores involved in visiting other countries, is about to get much easier this year. On Wednesday, June 12, MyTravelGov — the website for the US State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs — relaunched its online passport renewal system.

MyTravelGov first introduced online passport renewals back in 2022, and had multiple open windows for the pilot program before it shut down in March last year. For this relaunch, an unspecified number of applicants can apply each day during a “limited midday eastern time window.” Once the limit is reached, the program will close until the following day.

Learn everything you need to know about the new online US passport renewals, including who is eligible and how you can apply. For more travel tips, check out how to plan your travel with AIhow to perfectly pack your carry-on luggage and how to avoid airline baggage fees.

a screenshot of an announcement from the MyTravelGov website about the beta release of their online passport renewal system that explains how the program will accept a limited number of applicants per day

A limited number of people can apply for US passport renewals each day.

MyTravelGov/Screenshot by CNET

How does the new US online passport renewal system work?

Most US citizens currently renew their passports by printing and filling out form DS-82, then mailing that form with a new passport photo and a renewal fee in the form of a check or money order. The online passport renewal system instead uses a website form and a payment system that allows credit cards, debit cards or online ACH transfers. 

Renewing your passport online doesn’t mean that you’ll receive it any sooner than usual, though. The State Department is sticking to its “routine service” for passport renewals, whether they’re online or by mail. That means you’ll receive your new passport in six to eight weeks, no matter how you apply. If you need your passport sooner than that, you’ll need to apply by mail and pay $60 more for expedited service.

Who is eligible to renew their US passport online?

The most important qualifying factors for renewing your passport online are:

  • You are at least 25 years old.
  • You live in the US (state or territory).
  • Your current passport is or was valid for 10 years.
  • Your current passport must be at least 9 years old and have been issued within the last 15 years (2009-2015).
  • You still have your existing passport, and it’s not mutilated or damaged.

Along with the main eligibility requirements, the State Department provides a list of further restrictions for online renewal:

  • You can only renew regular passports online, not “special issuance” passports (like diplomatic, official or service passports).
  • You cannot change your name, gender, place of birth or date of birth from your previous passport.
  • You must be able to pay for online renewal using a credit card, a debit card or ACH transfer.
  • You must be able to upload a new passport photo.
  • You cannot travel internationally for eight weeks after submitting your online renewal application.

That last restriction is important because your existing passport, if still valid, will be immediately canceled as soon as your online renewal application is accepted.

If you don’t meet the eligibility requirements for renewing your passport online, you’ll need to renew by mail or in person at a passport agency.

If I’m eligible, how do I renew my US passport online?

Right now, MyTravelGov is accepting a certain number of online passport renewals each day (including weekends) around midday ET. Several news publications, however, including the Thrifty Traveler, are reporting the window will open each day right at 1 p.m. ET.

Before you can apply for an online passport renewal, you’ll need to create a MyTravelGov account, if you don’t already have one. Visit the MyTravelGov website, click on the blue Sign In button in the top-right corner, then click Create an account. This will begin the process of creating an account with login.gov, the US federal government’s authentication system.

You’ll then need to enter an email address and your choice of language — login.gov is available in English, Spanish and French. After submitting your email address, you’ll need to verify it by clicking on a link in an email message from login.gov, after which you’ll choose a password and preferred form of multifactor authentication.

You’ll then need to provide personal information for the account, at minimum your first and last name. Once you’re finished, you should be able to access the online passport renewal page. Hit the blue Start button at the bottom of the page to begin the application.

If the online passport renewal application window is not open, you’ll receive a message that you’ll need to return and try again tomorrow. If you’re lucky enough to begin the application, you’ll need the following items:

  • Your existing US passport.
  • A digital passport photo.
  • Credit card, debit card or your bank’s routing and account numbers for ACH transfer.

In the first part of the application, you’ll enter information about your current passport, your legal name and whether you want a passport book, passport card or both. Next you’ll update your digital passport photo, and then finally your payment information.

MyTravelGov will send you two email verifications after you submit your renewal application — the first will confirm your pending payment; the second will confirm that the payment has been received. One week after you apply, you can sign up for email updates about your passport using the State Department’s online passport status system. You should expect to receive your new passport in the mail within six to eight weeks.

a table shows which types of US passports are eligible for online renewal and when

You can renew whichever US passport format you currently hold.

MyTravelGov/Screenshot by CNET

What about renewing US passport cards online?

Passport cards are objects that look much like US driver’s licenses and can be kept in your wallet. They allow for travel from the US by land or sea to Canada, Mexico or Caribbean countries. They are not valid for any international travel by air.

You can renew both passport books and cards online. Basically, you can renew whichever US passport document that you currently hold. If you have an old passport book and passport card, you can renew both at the same time. If you have one or the other, you can only renew that specific document.

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Peter Butler

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