You could argue that there are two types of people in the world: those who aren't bothered by the thought of making a trip out to the local drug store to capture passport photos, and those who'd rather have a root canal.
If you're in the latter camp, there's a free-to-download app that's calling your name. ItsEasy, which has offered visa assistance to travelers for four decades, has just launched an app for iPhone and Android that enables you to take your passport photo and complete your passport renewal without ever leaving home.
How does it work?
The ItsEasy app has two primary functions: It allows users to capture their own two-by-two-inch passport photo without having to visit a drug store, and it handles the minutiae of completing and renewing one's passport. However, the app also provides valuable passport maintenance services, including a list of easily sortable visa requirements by country; an emergency info button in case you lose your passport or visa while abroad; and an automatic alert to renew your passport nine months prior to the expiration date.
What's free, and what costs money?
The app itself is free to download, and you're free to sift through visa requirements and even to capture your passport photo. If you use the app to renew your passport, there's a $29.95 service charge added atop the government's current passport renewal fee ($110).
That $29.95 fee includes a trackable priority United States Postal Service shipping label, passport photos, the correct forms, and an order status update. Once the order is completed through the app, ItsEasy will email you the correct passport application to be printed and completed, a simple checklist, and a secure trackable USPS priority shipping label to send the documents to ItsEasy for reviewing and processing. Then, ItsEasy ships all necessary documents to the U.S. Department of State, who issues all passports and passport cards.
Is it for you?
The upside of ItsEasy's process is that it removes the need to leave the house to capture and print a passport photo, and it also adds a layer of proofing to make sure that you've completed everything correctly. If you're unsure about how to complete the passport or visa process, or you just want a team of professionals making sure that you've done everything right, the service fee is justifiable.
The downside is that ItsEasy does add a bit of extra time into the process. While it saves you the trouble of having to run out and print passport photos, it adds a step in the mailing process. Rather than sending your renewal form(s) and expiring passport directly to the government, you first mail it to ItsEasy, which forwards it along once they've ensured that you've crossed your T's and dotted your I's.
Given that most drug stores charge around $14 for a pair of passport photos, and the fact that you'll spend time and money to get there and back, ItsEasy's $29.95 fee seems pretty reasonable. Just make sure you allow enough time to get your passport sent off and returned prior to your next trip.