Can Online Passport Renewal Be On The Way?

Wouldn’t it be nice not to have to go to the passport office to get your passport renewed?

It just may happen. The State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs is considering online passport renewals, according to a story in Federal News Radio.

Speaking on a panel at a symposium in Washington last week, community relations officer for passport services Carl Siegmund said State is looking to roll out a limited, online renewal option in mid-2018, “along with new push notifications to help applicants stay informed on the status of their applications,” including updates via email and SMS text.

“We’re trying to move from paper to digital,” Siegmund said.

Fifteen percent of passport applicants have issues, the top reason being passport photos. Currently, photos are submitted to the State Department’s passport services office through a third party or directly from the applicant—and they often are of “low quality or grainy,” and this can add three or four weeks to processing time.

The passport services office being more directly involved in accepting a passport would greatly reduce the issue, Siegmund said.

The State Department expects 21 million Americans to apply for passports in 2017 and 20.4 million in 2018 — up from 14.5 million in 2015 and 16.8 million in 2016.

Siegmund also said that in 2016, the passport services call center received 1.4 million phone calls for application status checks.

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