State Department tests new online passport application process

But act fast, the pilot program is only open to the first 25k applicants

FILE - This May 25, 2021 file photo shows a U.S. Passport cover in Washington. (AP Photo/Eileen Putman) (Eileen Putman, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

ORLANDO, Fla. – If you need a new passport (or a renewal), stop what you’re doing and follow this link: MyTravelGov.

Registering at MyTravelGov is the first step of a new State Department pilot program that, among other things will, for a limited time, allow applicants to request a new passport or passport renewal online. If registration is approved after signing up at MyTravelGov (usually within about 24 hours), applicants can then start their online passport application.

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“We are opening the portal to a limited number of volunteers during this pilot program,” the State Department says on its website. “To test the portal, we are seeking up to 25,000 applicants in August to follow the steps on this page.” Details for the pilot program are spelled out here.

Traditionally, passport applicants would mail in forms and required documents to the State Department or make an appointment for an in-person application. Need to skip online or the mail-in process and get it expedited? There’s a page for that too, but it gets tricky and expensive.

As of late, the State Department has been inundated with requests for new passports and renewals, a process made even more difficult by the pandemic. Last year, the log jam of passport requests pushed application processing times to 12 to 18 weeks.

Will this new online application cut down on the time it takes to get a passport?

A little – the website says processing times for new passports and renewals will be the same as those done by mail, but processing times have eased up a little since last year with routine applications taking 8-11 weeks and expedited down to 5-7 weeks. If a traveler is going abroad within 14 calendar days, the State Department says to call them at 877-487-2778.

The advantage here is not relying on the USPS for delivery and the chance your application and docs will get lost or damaged in the mail. Once you apply for a new passport or renewal, you can track the status on this page.

Can anyone use the new online portal to apply for a passport? You have to meet a number of qualifications:

  • 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

Finally, if you are going to apply online, remember that you’ll need to be able to fill out forms (easier on a computer or laptop than a smartphone), scan a passport photo, and pay for the application online as well.

There are even more things you need to understand to make sure you qualify. See the entire list here.

About the Author:

Donovan is WKMG-TV's executive producer of digital enterprise