Delays in receiving new passports have been an unfortunate reality for British travelers in recent years.
Holidays have been ruined by a huge Covid-related backlog, a lack of quick appointments and even the loss of precious documents. And while delays have eased since last year – when more than 400,000 people had to wait more than 10 weeks for a new passport – the Home Secretary has warned that holidaymakers will have to wait about another two months for their passports.
Suella Braverman told MPs on Monday that the 10-week lead time, introduced during the pandemic, would remain 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 expect 10 weeks. I call on people to apply in good time and not at the last minute.”
While holidaymakers should certainly not 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 costs 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 pre-holiday panic, holidaymakers should continue to allow 10 weeks to receive their new passport. However, it is likely that you will receive your document in a shorter time frame. The latest figures show that 97.2 percent of all applications are completed within three weeks, compared to 75 percent last year. In total, 99.5 per cent of all applications in the UK are dealt with within the 10-week deadline.
Please note that the situation can change without any warning. As the Home Secretary advised, a sudden surge in demand could affect processing times, leading to serious delays last year as the summer holidays approached.
Are passports lost by the Ministry of the Interior?
It’s not just delays that put holidaymakers in trouble. Travelers may also be concerned about losing their documents following news that the number of passports lost by the Interior Ministry 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 “held by security delivery providers” in the UK – the highest figure since at least 2018. Meanwhile, as of January to October, another 125 passports were lost or stolen while being delivered abroad.
Although the news does not inspire confidence, the number of lost documents remains relatively low compared to the number of passports processed.
How do I get a passport quickly?
If you do 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 such as your name, replacing a lost, damaged or stolen passport or applying for a child’s first passport.
The service cannot be accessed online and you must complete a paper application form, which is available from the post office. Confusingly, once you have the paper form, you have to make an appointment online, which requires you to bring two passport photos, your form and supporting documents to get your passport approved.
The online premium service is simpler and faster, but costs a hefty £193.50 (or £204.50 for a 50-page frequent traveler passport). In addition, it can only be used to renew adult passports and not replace lost or damaged documents.
Applications can be completed online and you must make an appointment at a passport center where you will receive your new document. You can get an appointment at the earliest two days after your application.
It is possible to call in an effort to expedite your document, but to get permission to do so, you must outline special circumstances, such as a sudden death. 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 cost of a standard adult online application from the UK rose from £75.50 to £82.50, while the cost of applications by post rose from £85 to £93. help to continue to improve its services”.