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Is Expedited Passport Service Worth It?

Passport courier services can cost less than a hundred dollars to several hundred dollars. The fee depends on the company you choose and how fast you need to get your passport. That's on top of government fees. With that type of cost you want to be sure the service is really worth it.

There are three groups who think that investing in expedited passport courier service is a worthy investment. Do you fall into one of these groups?

You're Faced with a Crisis Only an Experienced Passport Courier Can Resolve

While the details may vary, travelers who face a passport crisis have the following in common.

One, you have a trip planned that you absolutely must make. It doesn't matter if it is for a...
  • planned vacation
  • business meeting
  • medical emergency
  • or any number of other reasons.
The common denominator is that the trip cannot be rescheduled. Either it is too important or it would be too costly to move the departure date.

Two, you don't have a valid passport. Maybe the trip sprang up on you unexpectedly. It could be you didn't realize your passport had expired. Passports are lost, stolen, washed, eaten by the dog and even used as a drawing pad by your kids. No passport, no trip.

Three, there is no way you can apply in person at a regional agency. Maybe you're busy preparing for the trip, or you can't afford to take the time off, or you live too far away.

Letting a courier expedite your passport is your only hope of making your trip.

Applying Yourself Would Cost More Than Using an Expediting Service to Submit the Application

Passport courier fees can be quite expensive. But it can sometimes cost more to submit the passport application yourself. Many people look at the fees and quickly decide they would rather go the "do it yourself" route. They fail to take into consideration many of the hidden costs of the DIY approach. Here are just a few of the expenses you need to include in your calculations.

Your Time

Regional agencies are only open on weekdays. If you have to take off work, that's money straight out of your paycheck. You might have PTO or vacation days - but not everyone does, and you might have already used yours on the trip. Even so, those days have a value. Multiply your hourly rate by the number of hours you're missing. That's the starting point for costs.

Even if you don't have to take off work, your time is worth something. Traveling to a regional passport agency takes time you could spend doing other things. Set a fair hourly rate for yourself. Multiply that by the estimated amount of time you'll need to get your passport. To be on the safe side, you might want to set that at a full 8 hours and that's if you live in the same city as the agency.

Transportation

How do you plan to get to the regional agency? Will you drive your own car? Estimate the costs of fuel and parking. Unless you have a very economical car, the cost of gas can really add up.

If you plan to travel by bus, train or taxi, enter that amount. You might even be thinking of taking a flight. In that case, you will need to include both the airfare and ground transportation.

Food & Drinks

Applying for expedited service at a processing center can take half a day or longer. If you go as a walk-in, you will want to arrive well before the agency opens. After you get in, you might wait half an hour or several hours to submit your application. Once submitted, you will need to return later that afternoon or the next day to pick up your new passport.

You will probably consume at least one meal while you are out. Maybe more. You can pack your own meal to cut down on cost. If you're like most people, you'll want to skip the hassle and head to a restaurant. If you're planning to stay overnight, be sure to factor meals in for the entire stay.

Lodging

What if getting to the processing center requires a 6 or 8 hour drive? After such a long drive and a long day waiting in lines, you might be too tired to drive back. Jumping on a plane, flying in, and leaving the same day can be stressful. If the distance requires an overnight stay, there's another major cost.

Other factors might require you seek overnight accommodations. Your passport may not be ready until the next day. It could be that you discover that you need to submit more documents. You might have to get someone to mail them to you by overnight express. You'll have to stay somewhere until they arrive.

As you can see, there is more to expediting a passport yourself than just the expedited service fee. The DIY approach can get pretty expensive.

Write down and total your expenses for submitting the passport application yourself. Compare that to the expeditor's fee. An accurate comparison will help you make a better decision.

Once you know the true cost of traveling to the processing center to submit your application, you will know if expedited passport courier service is worth it.

You Prefer to Pay a Little More for the Convenience a Courier Provides

Deadlines create pressure. Trying to handle everything yourself can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Maybe you need to care for your family or complete a work project. More than likely, you need to finish travel arrangements and get your bags packed. The stress of having to get to a regional agency can suck out the energy required to handle these tasks.

If you have children, trying to schedule a day to visit a regional passport agency is just that much harder. Can you find a babysitter on short notice? Do you bring your children with you? This could add to your travel costs if you apply in person - not to mention adding to your stress levels.

Convenience usually costs a bit more.

  • It could be taking a taxi instead of a crowded bus that takes three times as long to get to your destination.
  • Or paying $50 more for an airline ticket that departs at a decent hour of the day.
  • Or employing the services of a passport expeditor so you don't have to travel to the regional agency.

Saved time and reduced stress can more than justify the expense.

What Should You Do Now?

The is the last article in a series: 5 Questions You Need to Answer Before You Apply for Expedited Passport Courier Service.

By now, you should have a better idea of what a passport expediting service does. More importantly, you should know if it's the right choice for you.

The DIY approach is probably the right choice for you if...

  • Your budget does not allow for any extra expenses.
  • You're within reasonable distance of a processing center.

A passport courier is the right choice for you if...

  • You must have a passport and have no way to get to an agency.
  • Applying yourself would cost more than the expeditor's fee.
  • Going to apply in person would be a major inconvenience.

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