The U.S. Department of State has announced that beginning in early 2023, the general public will be able to renew their passports online, following the success of two restricted pilot programmes this year.
According to The New York Times, the trial programme for federal government employees and contractors debuted in February. August saw the commencement of a second pilot programme for 25,000 members of the general public. The third pilot project concluded on September 17th.
The initiative is not unexpected. Early in December 2021, President Biden issued an executive order authorising the State Department to develop a secure online passport renewal system.
According to information provided at the time the Executive Order was signed into law, online renewals are anticipated to reduce the time required to renew a passport by 1 to 7 weeks, reducing the typical renewal process from 8 to 11 weeks by mail to 5-7 weeks online.
As a result of the pandemic’s backlogs, many of these procedure times have grown even longer. According to the New York Times, some passport renewals have required 18 weeks to process. Even expedited services are experiencing delays.
The State Department presently only allows those who were able to use the pilot passport renewal programme prior to September 17 to renew online; any renewals after this date must be completed through traditional methods until at least the beginning of 2023.
Many nations require passengers to have passports that are valid for at least six months beyond the return date of their trip; travellers should always check their passports well in advance of scheduling travel.