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Exclusive: Over a million people missed out on cheaper passports last year – here's how to cut the cost of applying

Over seven million Brits saved on their passport applications by applying online instead of using a paper form last year – but more than a million missed out, (MSE) can reveal. If you're planning a trip abroad this year, check your passport's still valid – and, if it's out of date, here's how to renew it for less.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 January 2022 and 31 December 2022, 7,403,200 passport applications were made online, while 1,054,943 were made using a paper form, show figures released to MSE by the Passport Office under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act. Applications include getting a first passport, renewing an old one, changing a name or personal details, or getting a passport for a child.

The cost of applying for a new or replacement passport online is now £10.50 less (after fees increased on 2 February 2023) than applying by post using a paper form. The findings mean those applying online collectively saved over £70 million – though of course this isn't an option for those excluded from, or who struggle to use, digital services.

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 made online – but over one million still apply by post

There's been a big jump in all types of passport application since the pandemic. Between 1 December 2020 and 1 December 2021, our previous FOI request revealed that 3,902,137 passport applications were made online, while 674,454 were made by post.

We asked the Passport Office how many online and paper form passport applications had been made between 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2022 (inclusive). It told us the following:

UK passport applications – 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2022

Application type 📝 Paper form 💻 Online form
Submitted directly to Passport Office 735,914 7,003,563
Made using Post Office 'Check & Send' service 319,029 399,637
Total 1,054,943 7,403,200

Figures include adult and child passports, as well as applications for a change of name, gender, photo or nationality, which the Passport Office doesn't break 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 through the website, if you're happy to (and able to) use the online service.

Here's a summary of the current fees if you apply directly (see below for more info on the Post Office's separate 'Check and Send' service, which costs extra on top):

Standard applications cost £10.50 less online

Passport type 📝 Paper form fee 💻 Online fee
Adult £93 £82.50
Child £64 £53.50

The same fees apply regardless of whether you're applying for your first passport, a renewal or to replace a lost, stolen or damaged passport.

Whether you apply online or by post, the Passport Office says you should allow up to 10 weeks to get your passport (for standard applications).

Chris Newlands, news and investigations editor at MoneySavingExpert, said: "Applying online continues to be the cheapest way to renew your passport and so, if you can – or if you can get someone to help you – make sure you opt for this method when you renew. 
"Our research shows that over a million people missed out on a collective £10 million in savings because they applied by post instead of online. Of course, paper forms will be the only choice for some, but many others could have saved themselves some vital cash."

Using the Post Office's 'Check & Send' service? You can also save by opting for the digital version

Over 718,000 people used the Post Office's Check & Send service last year. 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. The aim of this is to minimise delays to your application.

Check & Send, which didn't change in price on 2 February, is an optional extra which costs £16 on top of the standard passport fee.

There are two versions of Check & Send: digital and paper. Though the £16 fee is the same for both, the digital version works out cheaper overall because it's based on an online passport application – and these are cheaper in the first place.

For example, renewing an adult passport using digital Check & Send costs £98.50 (£82.50 + £16), while doing the same renewal using paper Check & Send costs £109 (£93 + £16, £10.50 more).

Crucially, 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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