The U.S. Department of State has launched a pilot program to renew passports online, the latest step to fulfill a promise President Joe Biden made last year to bring the process into the digital age.
The pilot program is currently open to the first 25,000 applicants in August, according to the State Department. Volunteers who want to complete the renewal process online will be accepted on a first come, first serve basis.
The State Department then plans to roll out online renewals to the general public later in 2022.
"If eligible, you will no longer have to mail your renewal application and supporting documents to us," the department wrote on its website. "If you are not one of the first 25,000 applicants, you may have an opportunity to renew online at a later date."
Travelers are eligible to renew online if they meet certain requirements, including that they are at least 25 years old, their most recent passport was valid for 10 years, and their old passport was issued between nine years ago and 15 years ago. Travelers who wish to renew online cannot currently change their name, gender, date of birth, or place of birth.
Processing times for online renewals will be the same as passports renewed by mail. The State Department will also offer both "routine" and "expedited" service for an extra fee. Currently, routine processing is taking eight to 11 weeks, while expedited service is taking five to seven weeks, according to the department.
Those eligible to participate in the pilot program will have to create a MyTravelGov account and wait up to 24 hours for the department to register the account. Once registered, applicants can login and start their application by clicking the option to "Renew Passport."
Applicants will then have to upload a digital passport photo using a JPEG file and pay for their passport renewal with either a credit or debit card or by using an ACH (Automated Clearing House) payment to transfer funds from their bank account.
Travelers who submit an application online will then receive email updates about its status.
The effort to digitize the passport renewal process comes months after Biden signed an executive order requiring the government to design a new online system. At the time, former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden was a "firm believer we can always make government work more effectively and efficiently."
Travelers who need to renew their passports but aren't part of the pilot program can do so by mail if they were at least 16 years old when they got their last passport, it is undamaged, and it was issued in the last 15 years.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.