Holiday planning

UK passport renewal guide: Everything you need to know

20 February 2020 | Updated 12 January 20245 min read

A picture of a woman holding a UK passport against the backdrop of a tropical country

Planning a holiday this summer? It’s worth checking your passport now.

While passport renewal times in the UK have finally returned to a three-week average following huge processing delays in 2023, some travellers are still being caught out by the EU’s ten-year rule, meaning you may want to sort your passport sooner rather than later.

Here’s our advice for renewing your passport.

When should I renew my passport?

Before booking any overseas travel, check the validity of your passport. In general, you should renew your passport if it will expire in less than six months from the date of your return to the UK.

If your passport runs out at least six months after the date you’re returning to the UK, you can carry on and book your trip. If you have less than six months’ validity, we recommend applying for a new passport as soon as possible.

Remember: you can apply to renew your passport at any time, regardless of its expiry date. However, you cannot carry-over any ‘unused’ months.

And as for general validity rules, you should always check with the UK consulate of the country or countries you’re visiting or take a look at the entry requirements on the FCDO's travel advice pages.

How long does it take to renew a passport?

The government advises that the current turnaround time for UK passport renewal is three weeks, but a third-party website that surveys recent applicants suggests you’re likely to receive yours much sooner – with average processing times about eight days for adult renewals and eleven days for children’s passports. However, this may take longer if more information is required.

Plus, with travel returning to pre-pandemic levels and the number of passengers travelling by air predicted to reach 4.7 billion in 2024, according to a recent survey by IATA, there may be delays later this year.

How does Brexit affect my passport?

For travel to EU and EEA countries after Brexit, you should check both your issue date and expiry date. The European Commission advises that your passport must:

  • Be less than ten years old on the date you enter the EU, and
  • Have a minimum of three months’ validity after the day you intend to leave.

If you have extra months on your passport (before September 2018, you could carry-over up to nine ‘unused’ months), it will not be valid for entry after the ten-year mark. Previously, your passport only needed to be valid for the duration of your stay.

This ten-year rule is still catching out EU-bound travellers and airlines have turned people away at the gate as a result. To stay ahead of the rule – and avoid missing out on your holiday – be sure to check your passport’s expiry date as well as the date it was issued to ensure it’s less than ten years old.

The exception to this is Ireland, where passport validity rules will not change. You can check if your passport will be valid for travel to Europe on the Home Office website.

Note that passports that still carry the European Union wording will be valid until they expire.

So, I need to renew my passport – what are my options?

There are a number of ways you can renew your passport: online, via post or, for urgent renewals, in person.

Online passport renewal

The cheapest way to renew your passport is via the UK government’s online application form. A standard 34-page passport renewal costs £82.50 for an adult and £53.50 for a child. It’s up to you to submit the forms and paperwork correctly – this includes providing a digital photo and completing an online form. Any omissions will delay the application.

For a belt-and-braces approach, the Post Office runs a Check & Send service for £98.50 (£69.50 for kids). It ensures all your documents are present and correct before you lodge your application.

Watch out for other websites offering a similar service. You could be charged up to £100 for what is essentially a form-filling service. MoneySavingExpert has a guide to spotting copycat websites and what to do if you get caught by one.

Passport renewal by post

You can also renew your passport via the post. This costs £93 for adults and £64 for children. The government has advised that it takes longer to apply by post than online.

The Post Office’s Check & Send service also offers a paper version that costs £109 for adults and £80 for children.

Urgent passport renewals

If you need your passport urgently, there is a one-week Fast Track service that costs £155 for an adult (£126 for kids) and requires you to visit a passport office with a paper application.

The Online Premium service is an even faster, emergency application costing £193.50. You will need to apply online and book an appointment to collect your passport.

If you need to travel urgently for medical treatment or serious family issues, you should call the Passport Adviceline directly. See the Home Office website for more information.

What if my passport doesn’t arrive in time – is there anything I can do?

If you get to within one week of your departure date and your passport hasn’t arrived, you should immediately contact the office to which you submitted your application (see the Home Office website or call 0300 222 0000) and they will advise you as to your options.

If, for whatever reason, you still don’t have your application by your departure date, unfortunately you can’t claim for flight or other holiday costs on your travel insurance.

Neither can you claim compensation from the Home Office. And airlines and tour operators are equally unsympathetic about out-of-date documents, so you’re highly unlikely to receive anything from them.

Remember: it’s your responsibility to ensure your passport is up to date. With travellers rushing to sort out their passports in time for summer, it makes good sense to apply as early as possible to renew your documentation.

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