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Worried About an Expiring Passport? You’ll Now Get an Email Reminder to Renew

Even the most organized traveler has probably pulled out their passport before a trip only to discover it's expiring soon … or already has. The federal government might have a fix for you.

After a record year of passport renewals and applications led to long wait times, the U.S. State Department has begun notifying passport holders reminding them when their passport is expiring. A spokesperson confirmed to Thrifty Traveler this new passport renewal reminder system launched in November.

Travelers whose passports are set to expire in the next 12 months will now receive an email from the State Department reminding them to renew it soon. But you'll only get these reminders if you included your email address on your original application.

Simple passport email reminders like this one will be sent from USPassportRenewal@state.gov.

Sample of a passport reminder email from the U.S. State Department
An example of a passport renewal reminder email from the U.S. State Department.

There's no limit to how far in advance you can apply to renew a passport, though federal officials recommend submitting a renewal at least six to nine months ahead of the expiration date. And since many countries (including much of Europe) require visitors' passports to be valid at least three or even six months after their planned date of departure, it pays to submit your renewal application sooner rather than later.

As international travel demand soared this year, so did the rush to get or renew passports. The State Department issued over 24 million passports this past year, a new record, according to a news release.

That unprecedented demand overwhelmed the State Department, leading to far longer wait times to get a new passport or renew an expiring one. At its peak this summer, federal officials advised a standard application could take up to 13 weeks – or up to nine weeks even for pricier expedited service. The State Department even recommended applying at least six months before a trip or passport's expiration date.

Passport wait times have since returned to normal. But now, the State Department is  concerned with preventing another backlog in passport renewals.

That's where the email notifications come in.

For now, it's just a pilot. After evaluating its success and incorporating any feedback from passport holders, the State Department said it hope to make these email reminders a permanent feature.

The State Department is also still planning to publicly launch online passport renewal. The federal government had been testing an online passport renewal system but ended the most recent pilot back in March to review the service and improve the user experience based on customer feedback.

The State Department told Thrifty Traveler they expect 5 million travelers to be eligible to renew their passports online each year, which would account for about two-thirds of all renewals and roughly 25 percent of all applications.

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