Using a passport expediting service can be a trip-saving strategy, if you need to travel quickly and don’t have a valid U.S. passport.
They can assist you [for a fee] with obtaining the necessary documents and forms to get your passport and speed the process along by submitting it to the proper government authorities for issuance.
A reputable passport expeditor can review your supporting documents to make sure they're correct and appropriate.
They can critique your passport application for completeness and accuracy.
They can provide you with a way to track the progress of your passport appli-cation either online or by email and keep you updated on its status.
A top-shelf passport expediting service can offer you a range of time and cost services to meet your particular travel schedule and circumstance.
They can guide you through the steps of applying for a passport for the first time, as well as procedures for renewing your passport, changing your name, adding additional pages for visas, or completing a child's passport application.
So, if they can do all this, what’s not to love about using a passport expediting service?
Two words: Buyer Beware.
A passport expediting service is neither a part of, nor an extension of, the U.S. government, which is the only entity that can issue or renew a U.S. passport.
They are private companies [known to the U.S. Passport Agency as 'couriers'] who are allowed under certain circumstances, to carry your passport application into one of the regional passport agency locations around the country for review, processing, and/or issuance.
Anyone can set up shop as a passport expediting service.
Yes, they do have to register with the United States Passport Agency to become an 'approved courier' to deliver passports to that agency.
But this in no way guarantees the service, the agency owner, or the employees are reputable or pro-fessional.
Nor does it suggest you should do business with them without first researching that they are trust-worthy to safeguard your personal information and professionally responsible to handle your most sensitive documents.
The number of private companies offering to expedite your passport or renew a passport quickly has grown considerably in recent years.
Due to updated security rules requiring all U.S. citizens to now have passports for international air travel, as well as book passports or passport cards for travel by land and sea in the Western Hemisphere, U.S. passport issuance has also risen dramatically.
And while getting a passport quickly through a U.S. Passport Agency is easily doable by any U.S. citizen, and is, in fact, the exact same process used by every passport expediting service, if you need to obtain a rush passport in weeks rather than months, your choices are limited.
If you need a passport quickly, but not quick enough to qualify for expedited service, there is simply no guarantee given by the U.S. Passport Agency that your passport will be in your hands in time for you to travel. [Although it usually is.]
But due to the arrangement most expeditors have with the U.S. Passport Agency, they can pretty much guarantee you will have your passport when promised.
A passport expediting service is allowed a limited number of spaces or 'slots' per day for the passport applications they can submit.
Their status as 'courier' allows them to deliver these applica-tions to designated regional U.S. Passport Agency locations, leap-frogging other applications for preferred processing.
For this they charge a fee, based on the amount of time you have for getting your passport before you travel.
The shorter the time you have, the greater the fee.
And there are things you must do to prepare your application and supporting documents, that a passport expediting service can not do for you, in order to prepare your application for processing.
You must provide written permission similar to a limited Power of Attorney, allowing an expeditor to handle both your application and your passport, once it's issued.
You must still present yourself to a passport acceptance agent for swearing in, when getting a passport for the first time.
You must complete the application yourself and provide [or pay for] the required supporting documents that become part of your application.
You must submit a verifiable [hard copy] of your international travel itinerary. [An electronic version is not acceptable.]
Although some passport expeditors will skirt the rules and fabricate an itinerary to verify your need for rush passport service, it’s your passport that will be denied, if it's found your itinerary is fake.
Your true itinerary must match the departure date written on your passport application, to which you swear an oath of truthfulness.
There are passport expediting services operating within all levels of honesty, respectability, and professionalism.
The most important thing you need to do when deciding if you should use a passport expeditor to act on your behalf, is verify the one you choose is not only legitimate, but at the top of their game.
There are plenty of honest, reliable, and professional passport expedi-tors that will assist you with the process of getting a passport quickly or obtaining your expedited pass-port renewal.
The following are things you should do and look for, when choosing which passport expediting service to use:
[There's a wide range of advertised fees and turn-around times, yet all passport expeditors do virtually the same thing. More money does not equal better service.
[If you find typos or out of date information, can you really trust them with your most sensitive personal information?]
[If you can’t reach an agent by phone, or don’t receive a quick call back, how easy will you be able to reach someone, when things goes wrong?]
[A travel agent won’t refer their hard-won clients to a shady or less than respectable vendor.]
[Use your judgment to purchase the correct turn-around service time. Don’t pay for quicker service than you actually need.]
Compare, compare, compare to get the best deal for your travel time and specific needs.
Every passport expediting service is in business to make money. Along with that, most also deliver dependable service, customer-oriented expertise, and a reputa-tion of honesty and ethics.
Make sure the passport expeditor you use fits into that category.
Please see our other articles with current, updated information on passport application procedures: