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State Department begins beta testing online passport renewal program

By Piper Hudspeth Blackburn, CNN

(CNN) — The US State Department on Wednesday began testing an updated online passport renewal program, according to a State Department spokesperson.

The program will accept a small number of online applications each day for several months to track and address any issues, the department spokesperson said. The number of accepted applications will gradually increase over time.

The move comes more than two years after President Joe Biden signed an executive order allowing online passport renewals for US travelers. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last year that the department had halted a pilot online renewal platform “to make sure that we can fine tune it and improve it before we roll it out in a bigger way.”

Access to the program will be available for a limited midday Eastern Time window each day and will close once it reaches the limit. Eligible applicants are required to create a account to use the program.

The department spokesperson said that “allowing the public to participate is important to monitor how the site is performing at scale in a real-world environment,” though they separately noted that “not everyone who wishes to apply online will be able to do so on the day of their choice during this beta.”

The processing times for the online passport renewal program are the same as renewal by mail. Expedited or urgent travel passport services are not available for those renewing online.

While the department said in December that processing times for passport applications had returned to pre-pandemic levels, the beta rollout of the online renewal program comes during a busy summer travel season.

Blinken noted in March 2023 that the agency had increased staffing and resources to deal with demand. He also said at the time that the department expected that 65% of passport renewal customers would be able to do so online once the program was fully operational.

CNN’s Jennifer Hansler contributed to this report.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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