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.
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.
The takeaway - they are inundated with applications and it seems like online submissions have been taking a back seat to traditional paper requests sent through the mail. The only surefire way to get action is to file a complaint with your representative or one of your senators, and even then they won’t touch it unless you’re within 14 days of travel.
I don’t have international travel until the first week of June, but admittedly it makes me uneasy seeing people with applications sitting with no movement since mid-November - 15 weeks ago.
So, I’m now at 12 weeks today and still don’t have a passport after submitting online.
@Honkinggoose, I would try the network traffic trick I documented here on Reddit to see where your application is. Mine is now at “Fulfillment” but it’s been there now for a week and a half. That was after getting fed up and just paying the $60 expedite fee.
Anyone try to re-enter the U.S. without their passport? I’m not worried about traveling to my destination without the passport, but am slightly concerned with how much of a hassle it is on re-entry with only a secure D/L.
One slight exception to that rule - you can board a plane to/from Canada with a NEXUS card (which I see is mentioned in that linked article). But you’ll need a valid backing document to actually use it - which typically is your passport. I also added my birth certificate as proof of citizenship, which supposedly means it should always work regardless of passport status.
@Honkinggoose, “Exception” is actually not terrible. It means someone manually pulled your application out of adjudication and they should look at it soon-ish. I did have good luck getting it looked at immediately by paying the expedite fee, but now it’s stuck in the printing stage.