Is expedited passport service worth it? Conventional wisdom says: “No.” After all, why pay someone to do something you could do yourself? Isn’t that a waste of money?
But what if I told you that using a passport expediting service could actually save you money, as well as your time and your sanity?
Because depending on your situation, it totally could.
Types of Expedited Passport Service
Before we get started, let’s take a moment to break down the different types of expedited passport service and make sure we’re all on the same page.
Expedited passport service at the Post Office
How it works: You send your passport or passport renewal application in as normal, but check the box for expedited service and pay an extra $60.
Processing Time: Usually 2-3 weeks. Processing times can change depending on how many applications the Department of State has to process. The most current times are available here.
Cost: $60 paid to the Department of State (plus the usual application fees)
Expedited passport service at a Passport Agency
How it works: You make an appointment at one of the 26 Passport Agency locations scattered around the country. Bring all of your paperwork, supporting documents and a copy of your itinerary.
Processing Time: Ranges from same-day service to 8 business days, depending on your travel needs.
Cost: $60 paid to the Department of State (plus the usual application fees). See our post on the cost of getting a passport.
Expedited passport service through a private passport expediting company
How it works: You order expedited service through a private company like RushMyPassport, and forward them your passport application and any supporting documents. First-time applicants, children and some people applying for passport renewals will still need to visit the post office (or anywhere else passport applications are accepted) before sending the documents to the expediting company.
The expediting company reviews your passport application for completeness and accuracy before hand-carrying it to the Department of State to have it processed. Once they have your passport in hand, they’ll send it back to you, often overnight.
Processing time: Depends on the service you order. RushMyPassport offers options that range from 24 hours to 10-12 business days.
Cost: Application fees + a $60 expedite fee paid to the Department of State, plus an additional fee paid to the expediting company. For RushMyPassport, fees range from $109 to $399, depending on how fast you need your passport.
Are Expedited Passport Services Worth It? Consider the Following!
Looking at the comparison above, it’s easy to see why some people would consider option #3 to be a waste of money. After all, the passport agency can get your passport processed just as quickly, and it doesn’t cost anything extra to use.
Or does it? Depending on your personal situation, here are 4 reasons it could actually be cheaper to use a passport expediting company.
Why is expedited passport service worth it (at least sometimes)? Consider the following:
You Don’t Have to Travel
Using a passport agency is only “free” if you happen to live in or near a major city that has one. But as I mentioned above, there are only 26 regional passport agencies in the US. Where’s the closest one to you? Find out here, and don’t be surprised if there’s a road trip involved. Or potentially a plane ride.
When you use an expediting service, 24-hour passport processing is as close as your local post office.
Money Saved: Depends on how far away the nearest passport agency is. For example, let’s say you live in Nashville, Tennessee. Your nearest regional passport agency is in Atlanta, Georgia. If you’re driving, that’s at least 8 hours in the car and $50 in gas.
Want to fly instead? That will be at least $200-$300 per person, plus transportation to and from the airport, plus the overpriced airport food and all the other incidental expenses that come with plane travel. If you’re a plane ride away from the nearest regional passport agency, there’s no need to ask “is expedited passport service worth it?” The math speaks for itself!
You Don’t Have to Take Time Off From Work
Most passport agencies have limited operating hours. They are not open on weekends. Some agencies, like the one in Boston, stay open as late as 4:30 pm. But most close at 3 pm, or even earlier.
Even assuming you have a passport agency in your city, how much is a day off work worth to you? Do you have any paid time off left, or were you planning to use it all on your upcoming trip?
Money Saved: Depends on your pay rate. But even if you only make minimum wage, a day off work will cost you $83. If you make more, you’ll lose more waiting at the passport office.
You Don’t Have to Reschedule Your Trip If You Can’t Make It to a Passport Agency
Need a passport in 2 weeks or less, but can’t make it to the closest passport agency? Sure, you MIGHT get your passport back in time for your trip if you expedite it at the post office. But using a passport expeditor is your best option. When you expedite at the post office, you need to allow at least 2-3 weeks. Yes, sometimes when the Department of State isn’t busy, people get their passports back faster than expected. Maybe your mom or your friend or some random person you just met told you that they used the post office and got their passport back in a week.
So what? That doesn’t mean it will work that way for you.
Ideally, the government recommends you apply for your passport several months before you plan to travel. Why? Because sometimes delays happen. If you use an expediting service, you have a much better chance of finding out about any issues in time to correct them. If you’re leaving the country, no passport means no trip.
Money saved: Hundreds or thousands of dollars, depending on how much your trip cost and whether or not your travel arrangements are refundable.
Is Expedited Passport Service Worth it? Your Time is Valuable!
Once you factor in all the potential hidden costs of traveling to a regional passport agency, an expediting service could very well pay for itself or even save you money.
But even if you DO have a passport agency nearby, an expediting company can STILL save you time, stress and hassle. No need to battle traffic in a big city, no need to find and pay for parking, no need to make an appointment or wait in line. That’s certainly worth something, in and of itself.
So, there you have it. Is expedited passport service worth it? Only you can answer that question. Find the nearest passport agency, consider the hidden costs involved in getting there, and decide for yourself how much you value your time and your sanity.
At RushMyPassport, we’re waiting to help make your expedited passport process as easy and stress-free as possible. Contact us today!