Will I get my passport quicker by using the online option?
Currently, processing times for online renewal remain the same as those sent via snail mail. But while there’s no guarantee that online renewal will shorten wait times, it will cut down on paperwork and streamline the process, both for applicants and State Department officials, who continue to work their way through a backlog of nearly two million passport applicants that started piling up in early 2020.
On its website, the State Department urges applicants not to renew online if they are traveling internationally in six weeks or less, as their current passport will become invalid as soon as they submit their renewal application.
How does the online process work?
To join the pilot program for online passport renewal, applicants must create an account at MyTravelGov, a process that requires a valid email address. Once logged in, the page will eventually contain a link to the online passport renewal system, which will require entering your passport number and uploading a digital photo. Currently, with the pilot program closed, there is no such link, and a link that read “how to renew your passport” takes you to a form with information for renewing by mail.
And the technology of the system itself, some travel advisers say, leaves room for improvement.
“The system is designed to take the nightmare part of passport renewal out of it and have people be able to do it from the comfort of their homes. It will be the future. But as it’s designed right now, it’s a little bit clunky,” said Anthony Berklich, a travel adviser and founder of the travel platform Inspired Citizen.
There are multiple steps, and applicants must create a password, then enter a separate passcode sent via email, which can be confusing. And after going through all the steps, some applicants, Mr. Berklich added, received error messages telling them they were ineligible for online renewal despite meeting all the requirements.
How do I know if I can renew online?
To qualify for online renewal, you must currently have a passport that is or was valid for 10 years, and it’s OK if your passport has expired. But you can’t renew documents online that are too new or too old, so if you have more than one year left on your passport (meaning it was issued after 2013), you can’t renew online. Same goes for expired passports that were issued more than 15 years ago, in 2007 or earlier.
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