Good News: Online U.S. Passport Renewals Are Finally Coming

Not yet, but soon.
Not yet, but soon. / Extreme Media/iStock via Getty Images

While job applications, bills, and so many other important parts of life are easy to do online these days, the U.S. passport renewal process has remained frustratingly outmoded. Sure, there are apps and sites that can help you figure out how to do it and what documents you need—but you still have to physically mail everything, including fees.

Now, as Condé Nast Traveler reports, digital passport renewals are finally in the works. The announcement came as part of an executive order signed by President Joe Biden on December 13, 2021.

“The Secretary of State shall design and deliver a new online passport renewal experience that does not require any physical documents to be mailed,” the order stated in a section titled “Agency Actions to Improve Customer Experience.” Other initiatives include new online tools and resources for tax filing, Medicare, veterans affairs, student loan payments, and more.

In a press briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that all the directives laid out in the order should be implemented somewhere between six and 12 months, depending on the agency. If you need your passport renewed soon, it’s best to go ahead and get the ball rolling with the current system.

“Non-expedited applications can take two or three months to process,” NerdWallet’s Sara Rathner told Condé Nast Traveler. “If you need your passport for an upcoming trip, don’t wait.”

If there’s any downside to online passport renewals, it’s that you’ll have to think about cybersecurity. But as so many people already know how to securely transmit personal information online—and may even feel safer uploading documents than mailing them—the new system will likely be a welcome change.

[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]