Here's How You Can Renew Your Passport Online

The pilot program has closed, and the permanent program will launch in March.

Let me start with a tangent. Earlier this year, I realized I couldn't travel on my passport about 10 days before my planned trip to Rome. I knew that wait times to renew passports were exorbitant, with COVID-19-related issues creating a massive backlog. So, $300 and a flight to Puerto Rico later, I stood in the only office in the US that had availability for same-day passport renewal. Once there, the process was surprisingly seamless. But still, it was a major headache (and a pocket ache).

The State Department recognizes the hassle it can be to renew your passport, even if you aren't flying off the continent to do so. The agency launched a pilot program for volunteers to test out an online passport renewal portal that won't require mailing in your application and supporting documents back in August 2022.

The volunteers were accepted on a first-come, first-served basis and over 500,000 went through the program. From February 7, it will be closed for a short period of time, before the program is permanently launched in March 2023, a memo from the State Department confirmed.

"If you created your MyTravelGov account before 1 pm on February 7, follow the steps on this page to renew online," the State Department website states. 'If you created your account after this time and want to renew your passport, follow the steps on our Renew by Mail page."

The online portal is ideal if you've been avoiding getting your passport renewed because the idea of finding a printer, an envelope, and a post office fills you with an unexplainable dread.

There are 10 requirements for you to be eligible to renew online, which are listed on the site. If you meet all of them, you can take the following steps to enroll in the program when it officially launches, according to the Department of State:

  1. Create a MyTravelGov account.
  2. Click the link in the 'account verification email you will receive after creating your account.
  3. Wait up to 24 hours for us to register your account.
  4. Login to your MyTravelGov account and start your application. You should see an option to "Renew Passport" after 24 hours.

As for the timeline, it won't be any faster to renew online than it will be through the mail. Processing times are estimated to be about the same as the traditional process, between six to eight weeks. So, the online renewal option probably wouldn't have helped me earlier this year, but you can still avoid my fate if you renew now.

If you don't want to wait until March 2023, you can always renew your passport by mail. Just make sure to find yourself a checkbook and some stamps.

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.