By Sophie Lam
Passport fees will rise on Tuesday 27 March in a drive to encourage applicants to go online rather than using the labour-intensive postal service. Standard fees will increase by £12.50 by post and £3 online from the end of the month, for both new applications and renewals.
The adult fee is being hiked from £72.50 to £75.50/£85 (online/post) and child fees from £46 to £49/£58.50. The premium one-day service is also going up, from £128 to £177 and fast-track one-week service from £103 to £142 for adults. The Post Office’s Check and Send service (£9.75) remains the same but does not apply to online applications.
Beat the hike
If your passport is due to expire within the next nine months, you can renew it now and have the remaining time added to your new passport, giving it a maximum validity of 10 years and nine months. You’ll also need a new passport if you change your name (for example, by marriage, civil ceremony or divorce), gender or appearance (such as plastic surgery).
Unexpired visas might be invalidated by a name change, so check with the relevant country’s embassy. You can apply for a new passport up to three months before a marriage or civil partnership.
Click and goMake sure you apply online via the official government website, gov.uk/apply-renew-passport, rather than third-party websites that could charge an additional fee.
The official online application claims to take just 10 minutes and you’re able to upload photos that meet requirements from your smartphone (the gov.uk website lists all official requirements).
It’s still likely to take around three weeks to process, so leave plenty of time, particularly during the peak spring/summer period. First passports – which require countersignatory checks – can take longer, around six weeks, but sometimes more. There’s a telephone advice line if you need help (0330 330 0901). You’ll also have to post your old passport back.
How the British passport will look from October 2019 (PA)
Burgundy UK passport covers will be phased out and turn blue six months after Brexit, but that won’t invalidate the current, EU-emblazoned passports. They will continue to be valid until they expire.
Until Brexit, your passport needs to be valid only for the duration of your trip within the EU. Many countries outside Europe require up to six months’ passport validity. Check on gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Did you know?
It’s legal to hold two passports, as long as you have a valid reason. For example, frequent travellers might need to send a passport off for a visa application and still need one for travel. Moreover, some countries will not accept passports with stamps deemed to be from “hostile” nations. The fees are the same as for a first passport.
This piece originally appeared at our sister site, iNews