Passport renewal tips

The cheapest way to get a passport and how to avoid copycat sites

If you're planning a trip abroad this year, check your passport is still valid – and crucially, this means checking the passport validity rules for where you're going, as some countries require a certain number of months remaining. We've the cheapest way to apply for a passport, how to get one quicker, and how to avoid shyster sites charging extra for 'checking' services.

Check how long's left on your passport BEFORE booking a trip

Don’t assume that just because your passport is valid for the duration of your stay, that everything is fine. Countries have a variety of rules about how long you need left, and how old the passport can be. Since Brexit, this includes most EU countries too.

If you fall foul of these, 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.

Most trips from the UK are to the EU. And for that...

If you are travelling to the EU, your passport needs to be less than 10 years old on the day you enter, and valid for at least three months after the day you plan to leave

The EU encompasses Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

Be careful if you renewed your 10-year passport early, as the extra months may have been added at the beginning of the passport’s validity - meaning your passport may be technically more than 10 years old and excluded from some travel destinations.

Ireland has different arrangements. It's part of the common travel area with the UK and as such a passport isn't required for British nationals travelling from the UK. However, immigration officers check the ID of passengers arriving by air and may ask for proof of nationality, so it's best to take your passport. If you are using a passport, it should be valid for the whole duration of your stay.

We've listed the requirements for other non-EU common holiday destinations below...

Destination Required passport validity

Australia

- Valid for the whole duration of your stay. No additional period required.
- If transiting another country on route to/from Australia, check entry requirements for that country too.

Barbados - Valid for the whole duration of your stay. No additional period required.
Canada - Valid for the whole duration of your stay. No additional period required.
Egypt - Valid for at least six months from the day you enter.
- The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FDCO) advises against travel to certain parts of Egypt. Check out the official Gov.uk website for updates.
Gibraltar - Valid for the whole duration of your stay. No additional period required.
Iceland - Less than 10 years old on the day you enter.
- Valid for at least three months after the day you plan to leave.
India

- Valid for at least six months on the day you enter.

- Two blank pages for your visa.
- The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FDCO) advises against travel to certain parts of India. Check out the official Gov.uk website for updates.

Ireland - Passport not required for British nationals travelling from the UK. Yet immigration officers check the ID of passengers arriving by air and may ask for proof of nationality, so it's best to take your passport.
- If using a passport, it should be valid for the whole duration of your stay.
Liechtenstein - Less than 10 years old on the day you enter.
- Valid for at least three months after the day you plan to leave.
Norway - Less than 10 years old on the day you enter.
- Valid for at least three months after the day you plan to leave.
Switzerland - Less than 10 years old on the day you enter.
- Valid for at least three months after the day you plan to leave.
Thailand - Valid for at least six months from the day you enter.
- Non-damaged passport with no pages missing.
- The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FDCO) advises against travel to certain parts of southern Thailand. Check out the official Gov.uk website for updates.
Turkey - Valid for at least 150 days from the day you enter.
- A full blank page for the entry and exit stamps.
- The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FDCO) advises against travel to certain parts of southeast Turkey. Check out the official Gov.uk website for updates.
United Arab Emirates - Valid for at least six months from the day you enter.
- If transiting (and not passing through immigration) your passport must be valid for at least three months.
USA - Valid for the whole duration of your stay. No additional period required.

Rules for travellers on a full 'British Citizen' passport from the UK. Last checked on Monday 22 January 2024

Country not listed? For a full list of destinations' entry requirements, see Gov.uk

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If you need a new passport, it's cheapest to apply online

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, which is the cheapest option, or by paper at the Post Office. The table below has all the passport services you can choose from (for all types, you can pay £11 extra for a 50-page jumbo passport).

Do note that the times are the Passport Office's current targets, so they're not guaranteed to arrive within that time – it's best to apply as early as possible before the passport is needed.

Passport type Time taken to issue Online cost
Postal cost
Adult Up to three weeks £82.50 £93
Adult 'Fast-track' One week after appointment £155 -
Adult 'Premium' (1) At the appointment £193.50 -
Child Up to three weeks £53.50 £64
Child 'Fast-track' One week after appointment £126 -

(1) There's no child equivalent one-day service

Got a burgundy passport? Newly-issued UK passports have a blue cover, but you DON'T need to get a new passport straightaway – you can keep using your burgundy passport until it's due for renewal. The blue passports will only be issued when you renew or apply for a new passport.

Passports can take up to three weeks to be processed, so apply early

The Passport Office warns that renewing can take three weeks for both online and postal applications, so don't leave it too late if you're planning a trip.

If you need a passport urgently, you'll need to book an appointment at a passport office and pay online. Alternatively, call the Passport Office on 0300 222 0000 to book an appointment and pay.

Beware copycat sites that charge extra on top of official fees

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.

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 or someone you know has been caught, it's well worth writing 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 per minute. 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 0808 223 1133.

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.

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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