CondeNastTraveler reports that the passport renewal process is getting a complete overhaul, with hopes of moving from paper to digital in 2018. So what changes do you need to know about in order to leave the country in 2018? Currently, in order to check how far along your passport is in the application or renewal process, you have to check the State Department’s website. In 2018, you will instead receive status updates via email or SMS texts, keeping applicants as up-to-date as possible on their application status. Additionally, a new platform will allow you to renew your passport online, eliminating the need for late-night trips to Walgreens to rush off your application the next morning.
Another drastic change coming in 2018 is that you may need a passport to fly domestically. Effective January 22, 2018, air travelers with a driver’s license that doesn’t meet Real ID Act requirements will have to use an alternative form of ID in order to board a domestic flight. U.S. passport cards and passport books are both acceptable forms of ID, but if you don’t have either and are from a state that hasn’t been given an extension, you’d better apply for a passport now.