A Winnipeg woman wants to warn others after she gave hundreds of dollars to an online service offering to help her with her passport application.

Companies have sprung up online offering to help with the process, but the Government of Canada is advising people to read up on the services and fees involved.

The renewal process involves filling out forms, then either a visit to the passport office, or to Canada Post to mail them in.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada told CTV News it isn't associated with any third-party website offering passport support. 

It also notes, passport document forms are free and questions about applications can be answered for free as well.

Winnipegger Donna Plant didn't know that before paying an online company $500 to help her renew her passport.

"The amount of money required seemed to be a little high for a passport," said Plant. "But I thought, well, I guess that's the way it is now. 

Citizenship and Immigration Canada provides a list of advice for travellers:

- No third-party person, group or website can speed up the processing of their passport or travel document application. Only Passport service locations are authorized to collect passport and travel document processing fees. Service locations include the passport regional offices, Service Canada centres offering passport services, selected Canada Post counters, and Government of Canada offices abroad.

- Fees are regulated under the User Fees Act.

- Travellers can contact CIC free of charge with any questions about their passport application.

- The Passport Program will never ask applicants to disclose the card security code on the back of their credit card when paying the passport fee.

- Passport application and travel document forms are available free of charge.