Renewing your passport is right up there with going to the dentist, getting an annual exam, and buying a car. It's just an awful process that no one wants to do.
First you have to fill out your paperwork and hope the governments instructions are less convoluted than usual. After spending a ridiculous amount of time attempting to translate a bunch of forms that were designed by someone with anger issues you are a third of the way through the process.
Another part people dread is having to get a passport photo that meets the governments requirements. This normally requires going to one of the many places that do it, deal with someone who is barely earning more than minimum wage and is has about five seconds of training, and then hoping your photo is accepted by the government.
Next you have to mail your application in with your old passport. Unless your trust the postal service with your life you make sure to pay through the nose and send your application through certified mail. If you send it normal snail mail you are a braver individual than I am...or mentally ill.
That process would be bad enough if you only had to pay for the shipping but you have to pay over $100 on top of this. That's enough to make a nun curse like a trucker.
Is there anything that makes this process easier?
I was determined to find something so I started looking around. I found a website that said they would help you take your own photo and then if you paid the $8 for the photo from them they would certify the photo and guarantee the government would not reject it.
I know $8 is a few dollars more than most places but if I could do it from home and have it be guaranteed why not try it?
I went through their process which was fairly easy. In the end I got to choose between having them mail me the photo (if I paid shipping) or they'd send it to a number of local photo processing places. I decided to have it sent to Walmart.
I went to pick it up. It was ready when they said it would be ready and it was under my name. I thought there were going to be no problems. The only problem was the Walmart employee who decided to let me know they looked at my photo and it was all wrong. They said it was too dark, there was a shadow on it and it wasn't the right size. I explained that the photo was guaranteed. She gave me more lip. At this point I really wanted to ask her why I should I trust her over the website. After all she looked like she'd been run over by life and then flushed down the toilet. I bit my lip though so I further explained that I run a travel blog and wanted to share my experience with everyone. That shut her up.
I mailed everything in a sure enough six weeks later I have my new passport.
If you want to try this service just click here.
It's not a bad service and it makes the process a little less painful.