To a traveller, there are few things more important than a passport. You can’t get very far without it, and you’re asked for it at almost every point of your journey. Fortunately, getting a passport has never been easier: the government has an efficient online service, and you can online passport application forms from several licensed third-party agencies. In most cases, all you have to do is provide the right documentation, pay the fees, and wait for it in the mail.
Other passport services are also available online, including renewals, replacements, and extensions. Renewals are probably the most common service, especially with travel becoming much more accessible today. Ideally, you should renew your passport well before it expires, so you do not get that little window where you don’t have your passport in hand in case you need to jet off. In addition, expired passport renewal can be complicated in some cases, or at least involve more steps than renewing a valid one.
Passport extension is a different service for holders of limited U.S. passports. Extensions usually require additional documentation such as proof of identity, and any documents missing at the time the passport was issued. Third-party agencies such as Flying Passport also provide this service online.
Some people are reluctant to go through a middleman for passport services, but the industry has never been safer. The main advantage of applying through an agency is that you avoid the long lines and bureaucratic hurdles, and you can make sure you’re getting all the right forms and information—although of course you still have to provide the documents yourself. When passport rules change (which they often do), you can be sure an accredited agency will be up to date and help you comply. You can also get expedited service for an extra fee, which can be useful if you need to leave right away or are on a tight deadline.
To make sure you get good service, choose one with a good track record and reviews. One such service is Flying Passport, which has been around since 1984 and also offers visa services to several countries. They also have a tracking service that allows customers to check the status of their application, as well as a travel advice section with tips on everything from getting insurance to fighting jet lag.
You can also look up passport services up at the Better Business Bureau to make sure they are a legitimate business, and ask around for firsthand feedback. This can take some time, but it’s well worth it for something as important as a passport. As long as you do your research and make sure all your papers are in order, you’ll be jetting off before you know it!