In early August, I wrote a post titled: HURRY: US State Department Launches Pilot Program to Renew Passports Online – Limited Time Only. I was wise to put the word “hurry” in the title because it didn’t take long for the passport agency to find 25,000 applicants willing to test out the service in the first phase of their pilot program.
The program was so successful that on September 17th the U.S. State Department posted on their website that they’re “temporarily closing down the online renewal service to new customers and plan to reopen it again in October.” They state they will post updates on their webpage by mid-October.
When they open back up, here’s who can renew their passport online:
- Your most recent passport is/was valid for 10 years, and you are age 25 or older.
- Your recent passport was issued over 9 years ago (in 2013) but less than 15 years ago (in 2007) from the date you plan to submit your application. Your passport can be expired.
- You are not changing your name, gender, date of birth, or place of birth.
- You are not traveling internationally for at least six weeks from the date you will submit your application. Processing times for the online renewal service will be the same as those for renewal by mail. We will offer both routine and expedited service.
- You are applying for a regular (tourist) passport. You cannot renew a special issuance (diplomatic, official, service) passport online.
- You live in the United States (either state or territory). You do not qualify to renew online if you live in a foreign country or have an Army Post Office (APO) or Fleet Post Office (FPO) address.
- You have your passport with you, and it is not damaged or mutilated, and you have not previously reported it as lost or stolen.
- You can pay for your passport using a credit/debit card or an ACH (Automated Clearing House) payment transferring funds from your bank account.
- You can upload a digital passport photo (.JPEG file format). Go to Uploading a Digital Photo for more information.
- You are aware that your most recent passport will be immediately invalidated (canceled) when you submit your application and you cannot use it for international travel.
If you do not qualify to renew online, you may be able to renew by mail or in-person. Go to our Renew page to learn more.
Should you wait to renew online?
If you meet the requirements above and you are 100% confident you won’t need your passport until April or May, then you can wait. However, if you need your passport sooner or there’s a chance you might, then renew it now in the mail.
According to travel.state.gov, the processing times for renewing online are the same to renew as they offer to renew by mail. However, they issue this warning to Americans who are traveling internationally soon: “Do not renew online if you are traveling internationally in less than six weeks.”
To renew online, you must create a MyTravelGov account and activate it. Once you do that, you will receive an email shortly after with instructions on how to activate your account. FYI: On their MyTravelGov page, there’s a video explaining how to create an account, and a link to your account login.
I just renewed my passport last year and renewed my son’s passport in February. I paid extra for expedited service, just in case we had to go somewhere at the last-minute, either for work or because of an emergency. I also make sure that everyone in my family has a passport card as well, as that will at least allow us to drive across the border to Canada (or Mexico or take a cruise) if, God forbid, we lose our passport book. Fortunately, you can renew both passport books and cards online when they reopen it. But note: “If you have a passport book and want a passport card only, OR if you have a passport card and want a passport book only, you cannot renew online.”
I also always recommend that travelers tick the box for extra pages to be added just in case you start traveling internationally a lot (you never know if you get a new job or win the lotto) because it doesn’t cost extra to add the pages and the State Department no longer adds them to already-issued passports like they did in the past. If you run out of pages on your passport, you will need to get a whole new one, which is not only a pain and a time suck but it costs money. For more helpful passport tips, check out: 12 Passport Tips that Will Save You Time, Money and Headaches and be sure to sign up to my free travel newsletter for daily travel tips.