Passports: what you need to know

Two UK passportsWhile the official government advice is not to book travel until you have a valid passport, it's fair to say that the majority of us end up disregarding this.

With holiday season upon us and passport offices around the UK swamped with applications, we've pulled together some useful information to hopefully make sure your family's passports are safely in your hands before departure day.

If you're travelling outside the EU, don't forget your visa/ESTA too.

 

First passports

  • A standard adult first passport costs £72.50, or £81.25 if you use the Post Office's Passport Check and Send service. There is no "quick" route for an adult passport. The official timing guideline is six weeks, however in peak times expect longer.
  • First child passports cost £46, or £54.75 using Check and Send. The published length of time for a child's first passport application is three weeks, but our Talk boards are full of Mumsnetters whose applications are taking longer, so don't assume this is guaranteed.
  • Check that your photos meet the required standard; any hint of red-eye or looking off camera may delay your application. The Post Office Check and Send option should be able to confirm if your photos "pass".
  • Think about who you are using as your countersignatory. Any checks will be sent out via letter to the place of work. If your countersignatory is a teacher and the school is closed for holidays, this will inevitably cause a delay.
  • "We had a crisis this year as returning from our Christmas holidays on the Isle of Man I left our five passports on the plane and had to get them all replaced a month ago. I used Check and Send and the passports came back after 10 days."
    Make a note of any reference number you are given. Without it you won't be able to chase your application up.
  • If you do call to chase your application, make sure you're sitting comfortably as some Mumsnetters have experienced long waits and are having to call several times a day.
  • If you're travelling for an emergency and can speak to someone about your situation, you may find you're able to 'upgrade' your application to speed things along, at a cost of £60.60.
  • Without a doubt the quickest way to receive a child passport is via an appointment at a Passport Customer Service Centre and application via Fast Track. These centres are located around the UK and the passport will arrive at your home address within a week. A Fast Track application costs more (current fee £87.00) but you'll have a passport in your hand much quicker.
  • If you are heading to the passport office, check and then check again you are armed with all the correct and completed paperwork. You don't want to head all that way and be sent home empty-handed.
  • For more information visit www.gov.uk/get-a-child-passport

 

Renewals and amendments

  • The published time to renew an adult passport is three weeks and costs £72.50, or £81.25 through the Post Office's Passport Check and Send service.
  • As with applications, the quickest way is a visit to the Passport Customer Service Centre (appointments must be made in advance). You'll either then get your passport the same day (premium) or posted to your home address within a week (Fast Track). Centres are located around the UK, find your nearest one here.
  • Childrens' passports can be renewed via the Passport Customer Service centre but a premium same-day service is not available.
  • Time left on your old passport is added to your new one, up to nine months, so don't wait until it expires before requesting a renewal.

 

What to do if passports don't arrive on time

Unfortunately, no passport means no travel. You'll need to speak with your airline/tour operator/hotelier about potentially changing dates, or amending passengers, but there will almost certainly be cancellation/amendment charges.

It is highly unlikely that any travel insurance would cover this, but of course do double check.

 

All prices correct at time of publishing, 6.6.14.

 

Last updated: 09-Jul-2014 at 3:30 PM