Government applications and ETAs

I recently sent in my passport for renewal.

A few days later, I began wondering if everything was okay. I hadn’t heard anything from the company processing the passport or the consulate. After some mucking around, I realized there was no online portal where I could check the status either.


Coincidentally, an email arrived the next day confirming their receipt of my application. They shared that it was now “processing.”

I have no idea when I will receive the next update.

Unlike visas/work permits/immigration documents, renewing my passport doesn’t cause anxiety. But, such documents are important and delays in processing can be painful. For example, my driver’s license was stuck in processing recently and I had no idea why till I went to a DMV and requested their help to resolve it.

I think there’s an easy way for our experience with government applications to by so much better. This product would have 3 requirements:

1) A place online where I can check my status
2) An ETA (estimated time of arrival) for processing my application and an explanation if the ETA has changed
3) Any issues or options to expedite it (e.g. “pay money here to process is quicker” or “no options – please just wait”)

These 3 requirements wouldn’t solve every problem. But, I think they’d go a long way in making the experience significantly better.