Passports can now be renewed online. Here's how to apply.

U.S. travelers can now renew their passport online under a pilot program the U.S. Department of State launched on Thursday. 

The State Department’s new online system will allow U.S. passport holders to start a renewal application for a short window of time every day, closing once the system has reached a designated number of new applications, officials said in a statement. The agency is preparing a full launch of the renewal system at some point after testing, but didn’t provide an exact date. 

If successful, an online renewal system could shorten the sometimes monthslong process travelers experience when trying to update their passport. 

“During the next several months, we plan to continue to limit the number of applications accepted each day so we can monitor the system’s performance in real time,” the department said. “If you are unable to start your application, try again on another day.”

Processing passports has become a growing problem for the State Department ever since COVID-19 travel restrictions were lifted, with the agency bombarded with an overwhelming number of applications each week. The passport application backlog grew so heavy last year that federal lawmakers from California, Colorado and Oklahoma introduced separate proposals to the Senate to speed up the application process. 

Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma proposed legislation that would improve the online tracking of passport applications and allow the State Department to hire more staff. Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Ted Lieu of California introduced the PASSPORT Act to streamline the passport application and renewal process.

The number of Americans holding valid U.S. passports has grown at roughly 10% faster than the population over the past three decades, said Jay Zagorsky, an economist at Boston University. Just 5% of Americans had a passport in 1990, according to the State Department. That number grew to 48% in December.

The State Department issued a record setting 24 million passports in 2023. Wait times for passport applications and renewals returned to their normal 6-8 week time frame in December, the State Department said. 

Renewing your passport online involves a six-step process:

  • Create a free MyTravelGov online account. 
  • After the account is created, log in and start a renewal application by clicking on the “Renew Your Passport” button.
  • On the form that appears, fill in all the boxes with the information currently printed on your passport.
  • Enter your plans to travel internationally if your departure is within the next eight weeks.
  • Upload a jpeg photo of yourself. No selfies. 
  • Pay the passport renewal fee and digitally sign the application.

Visit the State Department’s online renewal website for more details. 

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