passport renewal

Passport Renewal Tips

Avoid copycat sites

Whether you're getting a passport for the first time, or just renewing an old one, here's the cheapest way to get it and how to avoid sites charging extra.

Passport renewals and coronavirus

The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on travel, and the Passport Office is warning that renewing is taking longer than the usual three weeks for paper applications.

Fast Track face-to-face services are suspended. Of course, travel is banned for much of the UK, but if you need a passport urgently you can call the Passport Office on 0300 222 0000 to ask for your application to be fast-tracked. See Coronavirus Travel Rights for more help and info.

When do I need to renew my passport?

Since September 2018, passports have been issued with a maximum validity of 10 years (five years for children). Prior to then, if you renewed before it expired you were allowed to have the time left on your old passport added to your new one, up to a maximum of nine months.

Some countries require you to have at least six months left on your passport, so this means you may have no choice but to renew early. If you don't, you could be refused entry – we've heard one story of a family's four-year-old girl being refused entry to Turkey because she had less than two months left on her passport.

Countries that require at least six months from your date of entry left on your passport include most EU countries (but not all, eg, Republic of Ireland), Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, China, Egypt, Fiji, Indonesia, Israel, Kenya, Pakistan, Thailand, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

Many countries also require visas so check before you travel – Gov.uk has a full country-by-country list of entry requirements.

What's the cheapest way to get a passport?

The only site you'll ever need to go to is the Gov.uk website. It has options for getting your first passport, renewing an old one or getting one for your child.

You can apply online or by paper at the Post Office (although this is slightly more expensive).

Premium fast-track services are currently suspended because of the pandemic (you normally have to book a face-to-face appointment as there's no online option). If you need a passport urgently, you can call the Passport Office on 0300 222 0000 to ask for your application to be fast-tracked.

Below are the costs and how long it normally takes. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Passport Office is warning it's taking longer than normal to process paper applications.

  • Adult (normally three weeks) – £75.50 online (£85.50 for the jumbo 50-page passport) or £85 by paper (£95 for the 50-pager).

  • Adult (normally one week) – £142 (£152 for the jumbo 50-page passport).

  • Adult (normally one day) – £177 for the one-day premium service (£187 for the 50-pager).

  • Child (normally three weeks) – £49 online (£59 for the jumbo 50-page passport) or £58.50 by paper (£68.50 for the 50-pager).

  • Child (normally one week) – £122 (£132 for the jumbo 50-page passport). There's no premium one-day service for child passports.

Renewing seems pretty straightforward. Why do I need a guide telling me how do it?

It is pretty straightforward. But more than 300 people in our shyster sites poll were caught by one of several sites that look like the official Government site for passports, but charge people £20-£100 on top of the official passport fee. Many are just expensive form-filling services, though some also offer a 'checking' service.

If you do need help, the Post Office's Check & Send service ensures you've included the correct documents, that your photos don't breach any of the restrictions and that you've filled in the forms correctly. It'll also send your application by special delivery. It costs £16 on top of the passport fee.

Unfortunate for those who've got caught, but I'm pretty savvy. So I STILL don't need a guide on this

Perhaps you don't. But the main objective of this guide is to remove the confusion for those who do.

We're deliberately optimising this guide so it'll appear high up in search results when people look for "passports", or "passport renewal". This way, we hope people will click on this site, and use the official link in the first answer, rather than clicking on any unofficial sites which charge extra.

A friend was caught out by this. Is there any way they'll see their cash again?

It's very difficult getting a refund, but it's not impossible. The sad thing is that these sites are legal. They're offering a service, some similar to the Post Office's Check & Send, it's just that they're charging up to 10 times more for it.

Saying that, if you do know someone who was caught, it's well worth suggesting they write to the shyster site (speed is of the essence so emailing is probably best), saying that they want to cancel their contract and get a refund. Beware calling their expensive phone lines though – they typically charge £1.50/min. We've written a template letter to help. Please let us know how you get on.

You can also report the incident to the Competition and Markets Authority or Trading Standards by calling the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0345 404 0506.

MoneySaver ShinyDoc managed to get a refund. "I renewed two passports using this service [a shyster site]! But I noticed almost immediately and asked for a full refund, which I received about 24 hours later. The full amount was credited back to the account I supplied."

See our Shyster Sites guide for more information about how to go about getting a refund if you've been misled by passport sites, ESTA sites, GHIC/EHIC sites and more.

I hear passports are going back to blue. Do I need a new one?

In 2017, it was announced that the cover of UK passports will be returning to blue after we leave the European Union. You DON'T need to get a new passport straightaway though – you'll be able to keep using your current burgundy passport until it's due for renewal. The new blue passports will only be issued when you renew or apply for a new passport.

Have your say! Have you been caught by a shyster site? Join the forum discussion to share your experience, especially if you got your money back.

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