An American passport. (photo via ismagilov/iStock/Getty Images Plus)
The U.S. Department of State has announced that the public will soon be able to renew their passports online beginning in early 2023 after two successful limited pilot programs took place earlier this year.
According to The New York Times, the pilot program launched in February for federal government employees and contractors. A second pilot program launched in August for 25,000 members of the public. A third pilot program just ended on September 17.
The new initiative is not surprising. In early December 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order giving the State Department the go-ahead to create a safe way to renew passports online.
According to the information given at the time the Executive Order was signed into law, online renewals are expected to cut the time of passport renewals by 1-7 weeks, cutting the average renewal process time from 8-11 weeks by mail to 5-7 weeks online.
Many of these process times have been even longer, due to backlogs caused by the pandemic. The NYT reports that some passport renewals have taken 18 weeks to process. Expedited service is also seeing delays.
The State Department is currently only allowing those who were able to access the pilot passport renewal program before September 17 to renew online; all renewals after this date must renew by traditional methods, at least until early 2023.
Travelers should be aware that many countries currently mandate travelers have passports that expire at least six months from the return date of their trip; travelers should always check their passports well before booking their travel.
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