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Passport Services


The Bureau of Consular Affairs at the State Department issues millions of passports every year to people who want to travel to countries around the world. In fiscal 2021, the bureau issued more than 15 million of these vital documents.  

In early 2022 the bureau launched a pilot program for renewing passports online, adding a new channel to what had traditionally been an exclusively paper-based process and fulfilling one of the agency actions specified in the December 2021 Customer Experience Executive Order. The bureau limited the initial release of this option so it could gather feedback from customers and make iterative improvements to the experience before deploying it more broadly. The online option, incorporating changes based on customer feedback from the pilot program, is scheduled to be available to all eligible customers in late 2023. First-time passport applications, however, continue to be a paper-based, in-person process, primarily due to security requirements and data sharing challenges. 

This year, the bureau also implemented the option of choosing X under gender—indicating “unspecified or another gender identity”—in addition to M for “male” or F for “female”—for customers who apply for or renew a passport, becoming the first federal agency to make this nonbinary choice available.  

Service Overview and Data Highlights

Service Overview

Primary Customers

Citizens applying for or holding U.S. passports.  

Key Services

  • Information on and assistance with applying for, renewing and canceling passports reported as lost or stolen. 
  • Processing of passport applications, renewals and cancellations, and issuance of passports. 
    • 15.5 million passports issued in fiscal 2021.1 
  • Expedited passports for emergency travel.    

Service Snapshot

  • 14.3 million passport applications received.2 
  • 6.4 million calls to passport services contact centers. 
  • Average wait time for calls: 24 minutes
  • 168.6 million pageviews of passports webpages on 
  • Average processing time for routine passport applications: 40.3 days.  

Data Highlights


of customers were satisfied with the service they received over the phone from the National Passport Information Center in fiscal 2021.3 


of customers were satisfied with the service they received from Passport Services webpages in fiscal 2021.4 

Customer Insights

Customer Insights


(if applicable)

Improvement from 2021

Room for Improvement

Some customers can now renew their passports online.

Until this year, customers had only two choices to renew their passports: They could renew via mail by filling out a paper form and mailing it in with their previous passport and a check, or they could renew in person at a passport agency if they had upcoming urgent travel within the next two weeks.  

Recognizing that this process was time-consuming and created an administrative burden for customers, the Bureau of Consular Affairs developed an online alternative. First launched in February 2022 as a pilot program available to federal employees and contractors, the new online passport renewal system enables eligible customers to renew their passports at their convenience, from wherever they are.  

To participate in online passport renewal, customers create a MyTravelGov account on the State Department’s website, complete the online application form, and upload a picture of themselves. They no longer need to print out and complete a paper form, visit a photo vendor to get a passport photo, or mail in their application and existing passport. Creating a MyTravelGov account also enables customers to easily track the status of their application and to make changes to their application, such as upgrading to expedited delivery. Bureau officials note they have received positive feedback from customers who appreciate the convenience of the new option. According to data collected in fiscal 2022, during the pilot, 93% of customers who submitted an application reported that the process of renewing online was easy.

Throughout 2022, the Bureau of Consular Affairs has been opening online passport renewal applications for a series of limited pilot periods. This phased approach has enabled the bureau to collect customer feedback, including about why some customers started but did not complete the application, and to make iterative improvements to the online passport renewal system. For example, initial feedback indicated that some customers were having difficulties uploading photos to the online application, so bureau officials added additional instructions to make its guidance more helpful and had technical development specialists improve the photo upload tool.  

The bureau is also continuing to adjust the customer support options available to individuals renewing passports online. In addition to written guidance and instructional videos on the website, customers can also email the bureau for assistance or call a dedicated phone line for support. The phone line was originally available only on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but the staff soon realized that customers were using the online renewal option at different times than traditional passport renewal. “When people were renewing by mail or renewing in person, they were doing it during normal business hours, when they had access to put something in the mailbox, to go to a photo vendor. Now we’re seeing more people renew at a time that’s convenient for them—in the evenings after work, on the weekends when they have spare time,” said Carl Siegmund, a program analyst at the State Department. The bureau is now working to expand the hours of the customer support line to better serve customers outside of traditional business hours. The bureau also intends to provide customer support in Spanish over the phone and on the website, although the application itself is only available in English. 

During the initial pilot periods between February and September 2022, almost 45,000 customers renewed their passports using the online passport renewal option. The bureau plans to open the online passport renewal option to all eligible customers in late 2023 and hopes to add additional services to MyTravelGov accounts in the future.  

Initial applications for passports must still be completed in person.

Despite the progress made in digitizing the passport renewal process, customers applying for a passport for the first time must still visit a post office, a local library or another designated location to present their documents, including proof of citizenship. Online applications for new passports is a bureau goal, but data sharing remains a major challenge, according to bureau officials. Online verification of birth certificates used as proof of citizenship would require data sharing agreements with thousands of localities across the country. “That involves a lot of agreements and data sharing with a lot of different entities … it’s a huge undertaking,” said Nancy Pace, chief of customer service at the State Department. The bureau continues to explore options to overcome these challenges to support the creation of an online new passport application. 

New communication efforts are improving customers’ access to timely information.

The Bureau of Consular Affairs is updating how it provides information to customers getting a new passport. Traditionally, the bureau has included paper inserts in each new passport that provide customers with information they may find helpful when using their passport, such as how to contact a U.S. embassy or consulate when traveling abroad. The bureau has now transitioned to attaching a sticker with a QR code that leads customers to similar information online. This ensures that customers always receive the most updated information and can more easily access it when traveling, as the QR code is on the passport itself, rather than on a separate insert.  

Additionally, the Bureau proactively sends communications to customers through social media, press releases and other platforms to provide them with timely information about how to access agency services that may be relevant to their needs. The Bureau continues to explore additional avenues for these communications.

Delivering Services Equitably

Delivering Services Equitably

Each passport contains identifying information about the person who holds it, such as name, date and place of birth, and gender. Historically, customers applying for or renewing a routine passport have only been able to select one of two gender options: M for “male” or F for “female.” Recognizing that these choices did not reflect the full breadth of customers, the Bureau of Consular Affairs expanded the options and, as of April 2022, customers have a third option: X for “unspecified or another gender identity.” Another policy change enables customers who want to change the gender on their passport to do so without providing supporting documentation—and all customers can now self-select their gender on passport applications or renewals. Additionally, the gender that customers choose does not need to match the citizenship or identity documents they used to support their passport application. 

The bureau is the first federal agency to offer the option of X as a choice for gender, although several states have expanded the gender options for drivers’ licenses and other forms of identification. Officials said they are collaborating with other federal agencies to ensure that customers who select X as the gender on their passport have a smooth travel experience. Bureau officials encouraged those traveling with an X gender marker in their passports to provide feedback about their experiences, and have not received reports of complications with travel. By the end of 2023, the agency aims to have the nonbinary gender option available for all State Department-issued documents, including emergency passports printed at embassies and consulates overseas, and the passport cards which are used for travel to and from Bermuda, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean.  

The option to renew passports online is increasing access to passports, according to bureau officials. For example, individuals who have mobility limitations, lack transportation, or have limited time during business hours to renew a passport, now can complete the entire process from anywhere, at any time, including taking the passport photo. Retaining the mail-in option also ensures that customers who are more comfortable with paper-based processes can continue to do so. Initial passport applications, however, continue to require an in-person visit, which may not be feasible for all customers.  

  2. Ibid.
  3. Fiscal year average of quarterly automated phone surveys conducted following a call with a customer service representative.
  4. Fiscal year average of quarterly surveys conducted during customer interactions with Passport Services webpages on Travel.State.Gov. Survey respondents include both desktop and mobile users.

This customer experience profile was produced by the Partnership for Public Service, in collaboration with Accenture Federal Services.

Read the corresponding report Designing a Government for the People

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