The British passport has been around since the 15th Century, when they were known as ‘safe conducts’. These were issued by the Privy Council, which consisted of advisors to the king. Today, British passports are issued by the Passport Office which has been in its current form since 2006. Prior to that, it was known as the Passport Service and the Passport Agency. Each year the British Passport Office issues an estimated 5million UK passports and is the sole issuer of these documents.
Under current regulations, the renewal of a passport costs £75.50, if purchased online. This price increases to £85 if you apply through paper forms. In order to qualify for a UK adult passport, applicants must be at least 16 years old and hold British citizenship. Once you’ve applied for your passport, the process should take around three weeks – although it could take longer, if more information is required or you’ve filled the form in incorrectly. The time of year can also be a factor, and if you apply for a passport just before the start of the school holidays then expect it to take longer. This is worth considering if you have booked a trip abroad and need to renew your passport before you depart.
In the event that you need your passport urgently, you can make an appointment at the Passport Office. While this can be a lengthy process, you are likely to receive your passport on the day, typically within four hours of your appointment. For those applying for theirs for the first time, particular documents are required. Applicants who were born before 1983 require their full birth or adoption certificate. Those born after the 1st January of that year will require a selection of documents in addition to their birth or adoption certificate which includes:
- Your mother’s or father’s full UK Birth Certificate, or the Home Office certificate of registration or naturalisation, or a British passport belonging to one of your parents, valid at the time of your birth, or a British passport number for either parent.
- Evidence of one of your parents’ immigration status in the UK at the time of your birth, such as a foreign passport belonging to one of your parents, valid at the date of your birth
In all instances, certification must be official copies, certified copies or the original documents. No photocopies will be accepted.
What they offer – Services
In 2008, the Passport Office was merged with the General Register Office. This expanded its services from the issue of passports to include the administering of UK marriage laws, overseeing the system for the registration of births, stillbirths, the adoption of children, civil partnerships, marriages, and deaths.
In addition to issuing adult passports, the Passport Office is also responsible for children’s passports. To apply, children must be under 16 years of age and hold British citizenship. Currently, it costs £49 to apply for a child’s passport online. If you apply using paper forms, the price increases to £58.50. While it takes around three weeks to receive your child’s passport, there are, as with adults’ passport applications, fast-track services available.
Those wishing to apply for a child’s passport will require two identical photos of the child. In addition, further documents are required, including:
- The child’s full birth or adoption certificate, which include the parent’s details
- Proof that your child has British nationality, such as a British registration certificate, parent’s passport details or parent’s birth certificates
- Court orders that describe parental responsibility or residency arrangements
Only original documents or official copies are permissible. Photocopies and certified copies will not be accepted.
Where are they?
The headquarters for the Passport Office is in London. However, there are official branches in Belfast, Durham, Liverpool, Glasgow, London, Newport and Peterborough. The customer helpline is open between 8am and 8pm during weekdays and between 9.30am and 5.30pm on weekends. If you have a query, we suggest you call the Passport Office telephone number on 0843-216-0036
Complaints against the Passport Office should be made in writing, by email, or by phone. You’ll be required to give details, including the full details of the matter to be resolved, the name and address of the applicant, and the bar code of the application form. The Passport Office will contact you within 15 working days. However, if the solution isn’t satisfactory, you can ask for the complaint to be reviewed. If this doesn’t resolve the issue, you can ask your local MP to raise the issue with the Office’s Director General. If this isn’t sufficient, you have the option to ask your MP to appeal for an investigation to be conducted by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.
When you use any government services online, you’ll be submitting sensitive and personal data. One of the best ways to ensure your data remains secure is to create a strong password. Random letters and numbers are the safest and strongest forms of password – but be sure it’s something you can remember.