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Your questions about passports

Need a new passport? Find out more at direct.gov.uk/passports

Need a new passport? Find out more at direct.gov.uk/passports

Some of the questions we are asked most frequently about the passport application process are here. You will now find most of our information about passports on Directgov.

  1. Where is my nearest passport office?
  2. How long will it take for my passport application to be processed?
  3. How do I find out how my passport application is progressing?
  4. What are automated passport control gates - and which airports have them?
  5. How does the cost of a UK passport compare with the fees charged in other countries?
  6. What are the security features of UK passports?
  7. Do I have to apply for a new passport if my appearance has changed?

Questions about the new passport. You can find information on how to apply for a passport on Directgov.

  1. When can I get a new style passport?
  2. Will my new style passport be recognised and accepted immediately across the world?
  3. Is the current passport less secure than the new one and will I have trouble getting through border controls with it?
  4. What is the label in the back of my passport and what should I do with it?

1. Where is my nearest passport office?

We have seven regional offices around the UK, including one in London. Please make an appointment before you arrive at any of our offices as they operate on an appointment-only basis.

Visit Directgov for more information or to apply online.

Full regional passport offices details are available here.

2. How long will it take for my passport application to be processed?

Times for applications to be processed vary depending on which service you choose*:

  • Postal application. We aim to return postal applications within three weeks of receiving them. Please note: from 1 June 2007, this service became unavailable to first-time adult applicants as an interview is now required as part of the application process. We recommend they allow six weeks for the return of their passport.
  • Check & Send service (available at certain Post Office branches). Two weeks. However, if you are applying for your first adult passport, you should allow six weeks. 
  • Fast Track service (available by appointment only at passport office counters). Guaranteed one-week service. From 1 June 2007, this service became unavailable to first-time adult applicants because an interview is now required as part of the application process. If you are applying for your first adult passport, we recommend you allow six weeks for your passport to be sent to you.
  • Premium service ** (available only for passport renewals, by appointment only at passport office counters) ** . Guaranteed same-day service. From 1 June 2007, this service became unavailable to first-time adult applicants because an interview is required as part of the application process.

* First-time adult passport applicants will require an interview at a passport office as part of their application process.

** This service is not available to first-time adult passport applicants, lost, stolen or damaged passport applications, when a child is applying for their first adult passport or applicants who have had a total change of name - i.e. forename and surname.

Visit Directgov for more information or to apply online.

3. How do I find out how my passport application is progressing?

You can find out when to expect your passport by filling in the online application tracker. We will respond as quickly as possible. Alternatively, you can call the Passport Adviceline: 0300 222 0000 (see terms and conditions).

Unless an emergency arises, please allow up to two weeks from the date you sent us your application before contacting us to check progress

When you contact us to check progress, you will need to tell us your application barcode number. If you applied by post, this is the 10-digit number at the top of the front page of your application form. If you applied using the Post Office Check & Send service or in person at a Regional Passport Office, it is the barcode number on your receipt.

Before you use the tracker or phone the Adviceline to check progress, make sure you have your application barcode number ready to hand.

4. What are automated passport control gates - and which airports have them?

Faro airport in Portugal led the way in spring 2007, and the first facial recognition gates in the UK were installed by the UK Border Agency at Manchester airport in August 2008 and at Stansted airport in December 2008. Find out more here.

5. How does the cost of a UK passport compare with the fees charged in other countries?

We have listed 47 countries' passport charges in local currencies in the "International passport cost comparisons" document at the bottom of this page. You can also see what kind of passport each one issues.

6. What are the security features of UK passports?

To see distinguishing security features of current and previously issued UK passports, download the document "Basic passport checks" at the bottom of this page.

7. Do I have to apply for a new passport if my appearance has changed?

Where there is a permanent and significant change to an individual's face such as they cannot be identified from the photograph on their passport, then they must apply for a new passport at their own cost.

This will apply to applicants who have undergone significant facial surgery or trauma, obtained numerous/large facial piercings or tattoos since the issue of their passport.

Where the appearance of children under 16 has changed due to the aging process alone, they may not be required to apply for a new passport.

Where the applicant has grown a beard or changed their hair colour for example, but can still be identified from the photograph on their passport, then they may not be required to apply for a new passport. Should they wish to apply for a new passport in order that their photograph is more recent or to include temporary changes to their appearance, then they may do so at their own cost.

If you are unclear whether this applies to you, call the Passport Adviceline on 0300 222 0000.

Questions on the new style passport

 

1. When can I get a new style passport?

The new design passport will be introduced across the country from 5th October 2010 through a phased transition over a period of several months. IPS can give no guarantee which style of passport you will receive when you apply during this transition period. Both the new and existing UK passports are secure travel documents. The version of the UK passport you receive has no impact on the ability of the passport holder to travel without restriction and to gain entry to overseas countries as a British passport holder.

2. Will my new style passport be recognised and accepted immediately across the world?

Yes, UK travel documents are designed to meet all international standards for travel documents and are accepted worldwide.  If you are traveling to a country that requires an entry visa you are responsible for obtaining this before you travel.

3. Is the current passport less secure than the new one and will I have trouble getting through border controls with it?

No. The existing UK passport is a secure travel document. The design of the British passport is changed on a regular basis for security reasons and there are often differing versions of the passport valid at any given time.  This does not impact on the ability of the passport holder to travel without restriction and to gain entry to overseas countries as a British passport holder.

4. What is the label in the back of my passport and what should I do with it?

The label is used for quality assurance purposes and allows us to monitor the security and integrity of the passport during the production process. It allows us to pinpoint where a passport booklet is during the automated production processes. The label does not contain any personal details and is wiped at the end of the production process. All you need to do is peel it of and dispose of it in the same way as normal household waste.

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