Time to give the travel forum some love.
I was about ready to send in a paper passport application until I found this page on the State Department’s website. I didn’t realize this pilot program existed:
It saved me about nine bucks in postage - I hadn’t realized Priority Mail flat rate envelopes had gotten so expensive. They also accept credit cards for the renewal fee, which makes me wonder when we’ll see the likes of AMEX and Chase adding this as a perk. The photo tool instantly accepted my photo without any trouble (I used a white background) and I was done with the application in a little under 10 minutes, including the time it took to take the photo.
We’ll see how long it takes, but I have to think that it’s quicker since this eliminates the shipping time and manual processing time involved with opening envelopes.
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It’s certainly convenient, but now that the world knows about it, the one week turnaround times are long gone, lol. My recent renewal took about 6 weeks.
One point that’s not super obvious- Your old passport is immediately deactivated once you submit the application, so be sure you do this in a period with no travel.
The picture thing is finicky, and I ended up just buying one from CVS rather than trying to roll my own.
Another thing to consider when renewing your passport is to ask for the 52 page passport and not the 28 page standard version (same price).
I filled my 28 page passport after a few years, did not realize I did not have enough free pages for an overseas trip and was denied on the flight (note the last pages are for notes only and not for visa stamps).
Thanks to the OP for this post. I was unaware there was an online option. Mine is expiring in three months, so your post is perfectly timed. As for the fact that your current passport is dead when you submit the online app, I believe that you had to send in one or two pages from your old passport (invalidating it) when you renewed by mail, and if you renewed in person, the embassy/passport office punched holes in your current passport when renewed, I think.
I’ll follow-up in the next day or two with comments on the ease of account creation and the renewal process.
This is a good point - although recently, many countries have sadly ditched passport stamps and so the likelihood of filling up the book has decreased. The EU is the big one that’s done away with them, and I think we’ve done it too.
The upside is that several countries now let US passport holders use ePassport gates rather than have to go through manual processing. I know the UK now allows that.
You are correct regarding the many EU countries that don’t require passport stamps but also consider that some other countries, mainly in Asia and Africa, require 2 (two) blank pages for their own entry / exit stamps. Some of the countries I can remember, are India, China, Singapore, Indonesia, Qatar…
Wow! What a breeze. The only issue I’ve got is that they promised an emailed receipt for the fees, but I have not yet received one. The fee has already hit my card.
For those looking for bigger books, I haven’t been to South Asia, or Africa, but I have had issues with agents not stamping my passport. European countries, as far back as the late sixties did not stamp my passport unless I reminded/asked them. This occurred over half the time in England, Italy, Portugal, and Spain. Germany was a stickler, though. The Russkies were the sloppiest, sometimes only getting half of the stamp on the page. I presume they were fueled with wodka.
Thanks again for enlightening me on the online option.
I got the larger book, and the only annoying thing about it is that it does not fit into my cute passport holder that is designed for the old one.
I agree about the stamps. Often it’s a boring looking sticker. Or nothing.
lol - those holders are why I opted for the smaller book :). Well, that and the slow death of passport stamps in favor of electronic records.
Those holders are very nice when you have to cart around stuff like vaccine cards, entry receipts, etc.
It’s a Pan Am replica one and super cute. I can sort of jam that giant thing in there but it’s hard to close the zipper. Maybe I can make it work if I lighten the load.