This is in view of fears of an increase in passport applications when resuming trips abroad, especially since the number of applications processed in the last year has fallen sharply. There were only four million passport applications in 2020, up from seven million in 2019, suggesting an above-average number may be overdue for renewal. The passport office says it is sending text reminders to those whose passports are about to expire.
This is all the more important this summer as the British now need at least six months of validity for their passports to travel to most European countries – a change that went into effect on January 1, 2021 after the end of the Brexit transition period. Even if your passport is still in for a few months, you may need to renew it urgently.
Currently, foreign holidays are banned for many in the UK due to strict lockdown restrictions. These could be eased from May 17th, at least for those in England, but this has yet to be confirmed by the government, has yet to be reviewed and may only apply to some targets. You can find detailed information in our Coronavirus Travel Law Guide.
How to apply for a new or renewed passport
If you need to apply for a new passport or renew an existing one, you have two options:
- You can renew or apply online which costs £ 75.50. You can do this by filling out an online form on Gov.uk.
- You can renew or apply by mail, which costs £ 85. To do this, you need a paper application form from a post office that offers the Passport Check and Send service, or by calling 0300 222 0000.
If the Passport Office warns you now, your application may take up to 10 weeks to process. So if you apply in mid-April, you may not receive your new or renewed passport until the end of June.
According to the Passport Office, applying online is usually faster than by post. However, we are carefully checking how much faster it is likely to be and whether even online applications are likely to take another 10 weeks, and will update this story as soon as we hear about it. Either way, if you need to sort it out, do it ASAP.
Whichever way you apply, you will be issued one of the new blue UK passports. Note that you cannot now carry over unused months on an existing pass to your new one. You can transfer a maximum of nine months until September 2018. For more information, see our Passport Renewal Guide.
Can’t you wait 10 weeks What to try
If you’ve booked a trip within the next 10 weeks and need your passport sooner, here are some things to try:
- Check if you can expedite your application – although the official fast-track service is still closed. Once you’ve booked a trip, you should call the passport hotline on 0300 222 0000 to see if your application can be expedited. However, this is closed regardless of the pre-pandemic premium and fast-track passport services.
This urgent passport service is only for those who:
– – Travel for compassionate reasons – say that you or someone you care for needs urgent medical treatment in another country, or that a family member or friend is seriously ill or has died in another country.
– – Travel to work urgently – Say because you work for an airline or for the armed forces or the police.
– – Prove your identityFor example, when applying for a job, a mortgage, or a benefit.
We asked the home office if this service was extra and we’ll update this story when we know more.
- Contact your vacation provider to explain the situation and see if they can postpone your trip. It is possible that some travel agents, airlines or hotels may postpone your booking to show indulgence in certain circumstances, although they are under no obligation to do so. Of course, if the travel restrictions persist when you travel anyway, you should still be able to get a refund or use your insurance in the normal way.
- As a last resort, you should cancel the trip. If you’ve just paid a small deposit for a trip and can’t get a valid passport, it may be worth canceling the trip and not paying the balance if you’re not sure you can get your passport renewed on time. However, this means that you will lose the deposit you have already paid so you have to weigh the risks.