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Nearly 850,000 people missed out on cheaper passports last year – here's how to cut costs and beat the upcoming price hikes

Over seven million Brits saved on their passport applications by applying online instead of using a paper form last year – but nearly 850,000 missed out, MoneySavingExpert.com can reveal. With fees rising by 7% this week, here's how to get a new passport for less.

The cost of applying for a new or replacement passport online is £10.50 less (£11.50 less from Thursday 11 April) than applying by post using a paper form. Our findings mean those applying online collectively saved an estimated £73 million last year – though of course this isn't an option for those excluded from, or who struggle to use, digital services.

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

We submitted a Freedom of Information request asking the Passport Office how many online and paper form passport applications were made in 2023. It told us the following:

UK passport applications – 1 January 2023 to 31 December 2023

Application type 📝 Paper form 💻 Online form
Submitted directly to Passport Office 646,333 6,577,204
Made using Post Office 'Check & Send' service 202,914 441,847
Total 849,247 7,019,051

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.

Helen Knapman, news and investigations editor at MoneySavingExpert.com, said: "Our research shows nearly 850,000 people missed out on an estimated £9 million in savings last year because they used a paper form when applying for their passport.

"If you can do it online, or if you can get someone to help, the cheapest way to get a new passport is still to apply directly through Gov.uk, whether it's your first one, you're renewing an old one or changing your personal details. And right now is a good time to do it as you can beat the fee rises coming in on Thursday 11 April.

"But be warned: since 2018, any time left on your existing passport is no longer added to your new one, so whether it's worth renewing early depends on how close you are to expiry. As a rough guide, it's only worth it right now if you've less than 10 months left on your current passport."

Application fees are rising on Thursday 11 April – so if you need a new passport, you should apply for one now

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

The cheapest way to get your passport is online

Application type Current fee New fee from Thursday 11 April
Online (standard) 💻
Adult £82.50 £88.50 (+£6)
Child £53.50 £57.50 (+£4)
Paper form (standard) 📝
Adult £93 £100 (+£7)
Child £64 £69 (+£5)
Fast track (one-week service) 📅
Adult £155 £166.50 (+£11.50)
Child £126 £135.50 (+£9.50)
Premium (same-day service) ⏰
Adult £193.50 £207.50 (+£14)

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'll usually get your passport within three weeks (for standard applications).

Passport still valid? It could be worth renewing early to beat the fee hikes

It's worth noting that if you renew your passport before it expires, the time left on it is no longer added on to the expiry date of your new passport. This means renewing early is not a straightforward decision.

As a rough guide, if you've less than 10 months left on your current passport, it could be worth renewing now. Here's why:

A standard adult passport lasts for 10 years. If yours is coming up to expiry, it likely would've cost you £72.50 when you got it eight, nine or 10 years ago. This works out to around 60p per calendar month of ownership. In other words, each month you have left on your passport is 'worth' 60p.

This means the closer your passport is to expiring, the more it's worth renewing before the new fees kick in.

As an example, if you currently have six months left on your existing passport and choose to renew online now, you'd give up £3.60 but save £6 in application fees – a net gain.

But if you still have 12 months left, you'd be giving up £7.20 and still only saving £6 – a net loss.

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

Over 640,000 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 ISN'T changing in price on Thursday 11 April, is an optional extra that 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 still works out cheaper overall. For example, at the current rates, 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. This also means you don't have to shell out for photos separately.

For more help and info, see our Passport renewal tips guide.

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