Since the pandemic, everything has gone online. Unsurprisingly, travelers have wondered if they can renew their passports online. Luckily for those eager travelers, The U.S. Department of State launched a limited-release program where you can renew a passport online.

The Pilot Passport Program has been in effect since late November, and no expected end date has been announced to the general public. You can read on to learn how to use this limited-release program to renew your passport online. 

How To Apply

To apply for an online passport renewal, visit Travel.State.Gov. Travel.State.Gov is the only place you can renew your passport online directly through the U.S. Department of State. It is vital to make sure you are avoiding any potential scams. Although applying for a passport online can improve an applicant’s experience with the renewal process, having a fully-online system can sometimes lead to identity theft.

Once you have reached the correct website, click on the U.S. Passport tab. Find “Already Have a Passport,” which will give you a few options. Next, click the hyperlink to “I’m an adult renewing online.” 

From here, you must follow the steps on the page to activate your account. It takes about twenty-four hours for your account to be approved and activated after you have followed the steps. Once your account is approved and therefore activated, the “Renew Passport” button will become available.

Now that you have the option to renew online available, your application must be approved. The requirements are simple, although, without close attention to detail, you could get your application denied. 

Are You Eligible to Renew Your Passport Online?

1. You have a valid passport that is/has been valid for ten years, and you must be 25 years or older.

Those with a five-year passport are not eligible to apply online. Five-year passports are not eligible to apply for a passport online because they are only issued to those under 16 or children. Children must apply using the DS11. Any passport application using form DS11 is not a passport renewal but a new passport.

You must be twenty-five years or older. Most passport applicants receive their first adult passport at age sixteen, and the U.S. Department of State wants to disincentivize younger applicants from applying when their passports have yet to come close to expiring.

2. You are not changing your name, date of birth, gender, or place of birth

A change of personal information, such as a name or gender change, requires the applicant to mail in supplemental materials such as a marriage license for a name change, court documents, and sometimes doctor’s notes. Needing to mail in documents that are otherwise not allowed to be sent in online defeats the purpose of a fully online process.

If you need to change your name or gender on your passport or other personal details requiring documentation, you must apply by mail.

3. You are not traveling internationally within six weeks of submitting your application

The processing time for a passport application can take anywhere from six to ten weeks. Unless you apply for an expedited passport with the USDS, the waiting time is about three to six weeks. If you choose to expedite your passport, there will be an extra fee.

4. You live in the United States or a U.S Territory

The main reason is that the U.S. Department of State only mails domestically. 

5. You must have your current passport in your possession; It cannot be reported as lost or stolen, frayed or damaged.

Typically for the mail-in process, you should send damaged passports for review. Do not do this if you are applying entirely online. Because this application is supposed to be fully online, the state department prefers to keep it that way. 

6. You are applying for a regular tourist passport

Diplomatic, Service, or Official passports commonly cannot be applied through the U.S. Department of State.

7. You can pay using a credit/debit card

This online process of using a credit/debit card avoids having to send money through the mail system. Paying online often makes this process quicker and relieves the stress of losing an applicant’s money in the mail system.

8. You can upload a digital passport photo

You can have your digital passport photo taken by a professional vendor or have a friend or family member take it for you. 

First, please ensure the photo is in a . JPEG format and at least fifty-four kilobytes in size. The key is always to take a passport photo on the highest quality setting available for your device. Keep this in mind when emailing or transferring a digital file. You want the most precise image possible to avoid the state department denying your application. 

Next, follow the U.S. Department of State’s photo basics.

  • Use a clear image of your face. 
  • Do not use any face filters found on social media.
  • No selfies. 
  • No eyes/sunglasses. Yes, even if you wear them every day.
  • Use a white or off-white background free of visible shadows.
  • Maintain a forward-facing neutral expression, with your eyes visible. 
  • Unfortunately, a big smile will get your application denied.
  • Clothing and accessories may not leave a shadow on or obstruct the view of the face. 
  • Hats or head coverings are only acceptable for religious or medical reasons.

An excellent tip is to ensure plenty of white space above and around the applicant’s head. Having ample space around the applicant will allow the photo tool to properly crop the image without cutting off any part of the applicant. If you want more details on getting the perfect passport photo, read our blog, ” Tips For a Great Passport Photo.”

9. You are okay with your current passport being invalid for travel as soon as you apply

It is important to remember that these applications can take weeks, even months, to process, making international planning travel feel like a risk. If putting your life on hold for up to three months is too much for you, consider applying for an expedited passport. 

Do You Need Your Passport Expedited?

If you only want to expedite your passport a week or two, you can apply for the USDS’s expedited service. However, if you need your passport rushed, The Passport Office can help.

The Passport Office has been helping American travelers receive their passports for over 20 years! We offer services like new passports, passport renewals, and child passports. We also offer help with stolen or lost passport applications.

Our passport agents are trained and prepared to help you every step of the way, alleviating some of the most stressful parts of obtaining a passport. Book an appointment for a U.S. passport renewal in Hollywood with The Passport Office today, and get your passport in as little as three days!

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