Some great news for international travelers is on the horizon! Right now the State Department tells us to expect up to 11 weeks for regular passport renewal processing. Last summer, at the height of the processing backlog, people reported it took up to 18 weeks in some cases. President Biden announced an Executive Order that should help ease passport renewal frustrations.

The President Issues Executive Order for Online Passport Renewal

As part of his new executive order, Biden pledged to modernize some federal services, bringing some processes online like passport renewal.

The new system will allow travelers to renew passports using a secure, time-saving interface online. The new program kicks off this month on an extremely limited basis, with the rollout continuing over the next months.

Will I still have to take passport photos?

Yes. Though moving the processing of passport renewals online should save you time and money, you’ll likely still need to send photos via an uploading process.

How much faster will the online process be for U.S. passport holders?

Unclear, though it seems reasonable to expect the process to be much faster than the current 11 week turnaround. Before the pandemic hit and created the current backlog, regular passport processing could take 6-8 weeks. We like to think that the new online procedure will do a lot better than that!

As a bonus, you’ll no longer have to send important documents through snail mail. This has always been a stressful prospect for people who need renewal, especially because you have to post your old passport. There’s always a worry that it could “go missing” in the mail. This new system eradicates that stressor altogether.

When can I expect to use the new online system?

Ah, but there’s the rub. While the White House plans to start using a version of the new system this month, at least at first it will be by invite only. As with any new system, there will be an interim process where they refine things and work to get any bugs out. If you need to renew in 2022, you should probably plan on the old, more cumbersome process. As the process gets rolled out, expect to see new announcements about who can use it in which parts of the country. We’ll keep you posted here on the blog too!

What do you think of this new plan? Do you think this will be a smooth transition or do you like the old-fashioned process where you send in your important documents by mail? We’d love to hear your questions and/or thoughts about how it will work. Sound off in the comments below!

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