Delays in receiving new passports have been a sad reality for British travelers in recent years.
Holidays have been ruined due to a large Covid-related backlog, a lack of available speed dating, and even the loss of valuable documents. And while the delays have eased since last year, when more than 400,000 had to wait more than 10 weeks for a new passport, the Home Secretary warned that tourists still have to wait around two months for their passports to arrive.
Suella Braverman told MPs on Monday that the 10-week turnaround time, introduced during the pandemic, would be in place due to continued “elevated” and “volatile” demand expected throughout the year. Previously, the standard processing time was three weeks.
She said: “We expect high demand for passports throughout the year, and demand can be volatile, so customers should continue to allow 10 weeks. I urge people to apply on time and not at the last minute.”
While tourists certainly shouldn’t risk waiting to renew, the situation has improved, with recent figures showing that the vast majority of documents are delivered within a reasonable time frame.
Here we go over everything you need to know about applying for a new passport, from cost to waiting times, and what to do if you need a new document urgently.
How long will it take to receive my new passport?
To avoid the pre-holiday panic, tourists must still wait 10 weeks to receive their new passports. However, it is likely that your document will be sent to you in a shorter period of time. The latest figures show that 97.2 percent of all applications are completed within three weeks, compared to 75 percent last year. In general, 99.5 per cent of all UK applications are delivered within 10 weeks.
Please note that the situation could change with little notice. As the Home Secretary advised, a sudden increase in demand could affect processing times, which is what led to the severe delays last year as the summer holidays approached.
Are passports being lost at the Home Office?
It’s not just delays that cause trouble for tourists. Travelers may also be worried about losing their documents, following news that the number of passports misplaced by the Home Office has reached a five-year high.
Between January and September last year, there were 487 cases of passports and supporting documents being “confirmed lost” while “in the possession of secure delivery providers” in the UK, the highest number since at least 2018. While Meanwhile, from January through October, another 125 passports were lost or stolen while being delivered abroad.
Although the news does not inspire confidence, the number of documents lost is still relatively low compared to the number of passports being processed.
How can I get a passport quickly?
If you need a passport urgently, there are two ways: use the one-week fast-track service or the even faster premium online service.
The fast track service costs £155 for an adult passport and £126 for a child. It can be used for renewals, changing details like your name, replacing a lost, damaged or stolen passport, or applying for a first passport for a child.
The service is not accessible online and you must complete a paper application form, which can be obtained from the Post Office. Confusingly, once you have the paper form, you need to book an appointment online, to which you’ll need to bring two passport photos, your form, and supporting documents to get your passport approved.
The premium online service is simpler and faster, but costs £193.50 (or £204.50 for a 50-page frequent flyer passport). Also, it can only be used to renew adult passports and not to replace lost or damaged documents.
Applications can be completed online and you will be required to book an appointment at a passport center where you will receive your new document. The earliest you can get an appointment is two days after you apply.
It is possible to call in an attempt to expedite your document, but for this to be authorized, you would need to state special circumstances, such as sudden bereavement. The number to call is 0300 222 0000.
How much does a standard passport renewal cost?
Despite the less than stellar service provided in recent years, passport prices have increased this month. In early February, the fee for a standard adult online application made from the UK increased from £75.50 to £82.50, while the cost of postal applications increased from £85 to £93. According to the Passport Office, the increase “will help the government continue to improve its services.”