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Published: Jun 18, 2024 4 min read
Photo Illustration of a laptop with multiple US passports, twenty dollar bills and cursors
Money; Getty Images

The State Department has opened a beta version of a new online system for U.S. passport renewal, which could simplify an onerous process that most Americans have been doing by mail.

Don't get too excited: The cost of renewing a passport — $130 — isn’t changing, and the online renewal option will only be available to a limited number of people each day. The plan is to monitor how the system is working for the next several months before a possible wider rollout.

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"You may not be able to start your application on the day of your choice," an announcement, posted last week, reads. “The system will open for a limited midday Eastern Time window each day and will close once we reach our limit for the day.”

The spots have been opening around 1 p.m. But on Monday afternoon, the website to make an account was not loading, instead displaying an error message that Salesforce.com servers were temporarily unavailable. By 3 p.m., it said, "Thanks for visiting! Our daily window for Online Passport Renewal has now closed," urging folks to return another day and/or go the snail-mail route.

Eligibility for online passport renewal

In 2021, President Joe Biden signed an executive order for online passport renewal, which directed the State Department to create the system. The goal was to reduce the time it takes to print and mail documents and pay with a physical check.

A separate earlier attempt at an online renewal option came out a few years ago, but that program wound down in 2023. The system has been updated for this iteration, though the State Department didn't explain the specify the changes in the announcement.

There are a few rules to know for online passport renewal: You must be 25 or older, live in the U.S. and have a passport issued between 2009 and 2015 or “over 9 years but less than 15 years from the date you plan to submit your application.”

The online option is meant for people who can wait up to eight weeks for their renewal, officials said, as the option to expedite isn’t available online.

In 2021, passport renewal processing was delayed by over two months in some cases due to staffing issues and high demand. The department says the current passport processing time is lower now: six to eight weeks.

How to renew a passport online

To renew your passport online, you’ll need to visit the MyTravelGov website. The system will ask you to make an account and fill out information about your passport.

With the new system, you can upload a digital photo of yourself in .JPEG format, which should be easier than getting printed passport photos.

You can pay the $130 fee with a credit or debit card. Once your application is submitted, sign up for email updates.

The cost of a passport has been the same since December 2021. But travelers also applying for Global Entry, a service that gives certain people expedited clearance, will soon have to deal with higher fees. A $20 price hike will take effect on Oct. 1.

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