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Consumers to renew their American passports online: State Department

*The US State Department  recently released a programme intended to cut costs, simplify the renewal process, and get travellers new passports faster online

*Agency reels off 10-item eligibility checklist for volunteers in the pilot programme

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

For American consumers with international travel plans on their calendars, getting up-to-date passports has taken longer than usual recently.

Processing times have stalled significantly during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, with consumers waiting anywhere from eight to 11 weeks to receive an updated passport.

It was in an effort to reduce the wait time, the United States (US) State Department, earlier August 2022, released a pilot programme that would get the ball rolling with online passport renewals for consumers.

The US agency was looking for 25,000 volunteers to test out this new programme, and while new spots are set to open in September, the plan is to have the program fully rolled out by 2023, agency report said.

Currently, the programme is expected to process passports in a similar timeline to in-person renewals.

Consumers who are testing it out should still expect to wait between eight and 11 weeks for their new passports – or five to seven weeks for expedited processing, report stated.

However, over time, the programme is intended to cut costs, simplify the renewal process, and get travellers new passports faster.

Likewise, the price tag associated with renewing passports online is not expected to change from the current fees.

Passport renewals cost $130 for the book, $30 for the passport card, and $160 for both.

Eligibility for the pilot programme

In the State Department’s call for volunteers, it was gathered there was a 10-item checklist people needed to go through to ensure that they were eligible for online renewal.

This includes:

Having a valid passport for 10 years and being at least 25 years old

Current passports can be expired, but they must have been issued less than 15 years ago but at least nine years

Renewers can’t be in the process of changing their name, gender, date of birth, or place of birth

International travel is scheduled at least five weeks out

The application is for a regular tourist passport

Applicants live in the U.S. – not foreign countries, or those with Army Post Office or Fleet Post Office addresses

The current passport is in good condition – not lost, stolen, or destroyed

Payment for the new passport can be made with credit/debit card or automated clearing house payment transferring funds from your account

A digital passport photo can be uploaded to the site

The current passport will be invalidated once the online application is submitted

These guidelines are likely to remain in place when the programme reopens to volunteers in September. Consumers interested in renewing their passport online should check the State Department’s Web site for updates.

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