If you’re applying for a Canadian passport, it’s best to avoid online companies that promise to speed up the process, the federal government is warning.

The federal government’s Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada department says Canadians should be wary of online companies that falsely claim to fast-track passport applications for a fee.

Several online companies that are not affiliated with the federal government, which issues all Canadian passports, pop up onscreen when you search for passport services online.

But they may be of no help at all, and a waste of money too.

When retiree Muratib Ali’s made plans to renew his expired passport, he first searched online for information on how to do it. He found a website called PassportOnline.ca. When he gave them $330, he thought he was purchasing two 10-year-passports – one for himself and one for his wife. Days later, he received a piece of paper mailed from a post office box.

Ali took it to a government passport office.

“Everything was filled out, and (the attendant) said ‘How do you want to pay?’ I said, ‘I’ve already paid.’ He said, ‘No, not us. Maybe somebody else,’” Ali told CTV Toronto.

The PassportOnline.ca website does state on its website that it is “not affiliated with the government.” Calls and emails from CTV Consumer Alert reporter Pat Foran to the company were not returned.

Ali was able to obtain passports for both he and his wife, but only after he paid the government another $160 for each of them.

The government of Canada says no one needs to pay a third party to obtain a passport.

When applying for a Canadian passport, it’s important to know:

-Online companies can’t speed up the process

-Only passport service locations collect passport fees

-Passport applications are available free of charge

If you need a passport and have questions, only deal with government of Canada sources. Passport information from the government is also free of charge.

If you’re in a rush to obtain a passport, there are legitimate ways to speed up the passport application process, however, they usually involve added “rush” fees.