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Exclusive: More than half a million people missed out on cheapest passport rates because they applied by post – here's how to cut costs

Over three million Brits saved on their passport applications by applying online instead of by post last year – but more than half a million missed out, (MSE) can reveal. So if you're planning a holiday abroad for the first time in a while, check your passport's still valid – and, if it's out of date, here's how to renew it for less.

In the 12 months between 1 December 2020 and 1 December 2021, 3,902,137 passport applications were made online, while 674,454 were made by post, show figures released to MSE from the Passport Office under the Freedom of Information Act.

The cost of applying for a new or replacement passport online is £9.50 less than applying by post using a paper form. The findings mean those applying online collectively saved over £37 million.

We've info on how to get a passport for less below, but for full help see our Passport renewal tips guide.

Most applications are now made online – but 100,000s of people still apply by post

We asked the Passport Office how many online and paper passport applications had been made between 1 December 2020 to 1 December 2021. It told us the following:

UK passport applications – 1 Dec 2020 to 1 Dec 2021

🛂 Application type 💻 Online applications (1) 📝 Paper applications (1)
Adult 2,894,675 418,788
Child 865,454 214,894
Change (2) 142,008 40,772
All types (total) 3,902,137 674,454

(1) Includes 'Check & Send' applications. (2) Applications for a change of name, photo or national status; the Passport Office doesn't break these down by age.

The cheapest way to get your passport is online 

Whether you're getting your first passport, renewing an old one, changing your name or personal details, or getting a passport for your child, the cheapest way to do so is via the website, if you're happy and able to use the online service.

It costs £75.50 to get a new first-time or replacement adult passport online, including if you need to change the details on it. For child passports it's £49.

In comparison, applying by post using a paper form costs £85 for an adult passport and £58.50 for a child – £9.50 more in both cases.

The current standard waiting time to renew an adult or child passport is five weeks, whether you apply online or by post, though the Passport Office says you should allow up to 10 weeks to get it.

Those using the Post Office's 'Check & Send' service can also save by opting for the digital version

The figures in the table above include applications made via the Post Office's Check & Send service. The idea behind this scheme is for the Post Office to check your passport application before it's sent to try to ensure you've included the correct documents, that your photos don't breach any restrictions, and that the forms have been filled in correctly.

According to the Post Office, standard passport applications are two and a half times more likely to be delayed due to basic errors than applications processed via Check & Send, so if you think you might make a mistake or are in a hurry it may be worth opting for the service.  

But while Check & Send costs £16 on top of the standard passport fee, you'll again save by using the digital Check & Send service as opposed to the paper version. For example, renewing an adult passport using digital Check & Send costs £91.50
 while doing the same renewal using paper Check & Send costs £101 (£9.50 more)

If you opt for the digital Check & Send service, the Post Office will complete the online application form and take your digital photo for you, so you can save even if you aren't able or don't want to do this yourself.

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