President Joe Biden signed an executive order requiring the government to design a new digital system.
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Travelers looking to renew their passports may soon be able to do so online after President Joe Biden signed an executive order requiring the government to design a new digital system.

The order, which Biden signed on Monday, mandates that the secretary of state "design and deliver a new online passport renewal experience that does not require any physical documents to be mailed."

The new order is expected to take six to 12 months to implement, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a briefing on Monday.

Biden is "a firm believer we can always make government work more effectively and efficiently. Technology is a way to do that in many ways — to make it easier, simpler, more accessible for people — whether they're seniors who are trying to get their Social Security benefits or people just applying to renew their passport," Psaki said.

American passport with boarding pass inside
Credit: Tetra Images/Getty Images

Currently, the most convenient way to renew a passport is by mail. Travelers may use this service if they were at least 16 years old when they got their last passport, it is undamaged, and it was issued in the last 15 years. To renew by mail, the passport must either show the traveler's current name or they must have documentation proving their name change.

Travelers must then send in a form, which they can find online, along with a new photo, a check, and their old passport.

Earlier this year, passport applications saw an immense backlog, taking up to 18 weeks to process and mail out (12 weeks for processing and up to six weeks for mailing). That has since dropped to eight to 11 weeks for normal processing and five to seven weeks for expedited processing, which costs an additional $60, according to the State Department.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.