The U.S. State Department on Tuesday secretly launched a test run of its long-awaited online passport renewal program.
In August, 25,000 eligible Americans will be able to renew their passports online, and it hopes to expand the program nationwide early next year. The State Department earlier this year set a fall 2022 date for the public rollout.
With an executive order to streamline several federal operations, President Joe Biden set online passport renewals in motion in December 2021.
By March, the State Department notified that it hoped to launch that capability in the fall of 2022, following a more limited pilot study involving federal employees and government contractors to test the system.
According to a State Department official, the August test will help confirm that the online renewal mechanism is working as intended, leading up to a full public debut in early 2023.
If travelers fail the August tests, the agency plans to conduct additional rounds of testing in the coming months.
During this testing period, however, not everyone will be eligible for online renewal.
“Applicants must be 25 or older, with a passport still in hand (and in usable shape) that was valid for a full 10 years – though an expired one is OK.
That passport must have been issued at least nine years ago (no more recent than 2013) but no more than 15 years ago (no earlier than 2007),” as per Thrifty Traveler.
Additionally, the State Department advises against applying for online renewal if you intend to travel overseas in the following five weeks because, at least during this trial, processing times are the same as for traditional mail-in route.
If your passport meets these and a few other requirements (such as not trying to change your name or other personal information), you can create and activate a MyTravelGov account, wait about 24 hours, and then look for the new “Renew Now” option in your account. As part of the online renewal process, you will also need to take and upload your own digital passport photo.
Adult renewals are now $130, up from $110 before, and that’s before any additional payments to expedite processing, which are an additional $60. New adult applications have increased from $145 to $165, while passport applications for children under 16 are now $135 (up from $115).