How to renew a UK passport

Renewing your passport is a pretty straightforward process and can be much quicker and easier if you do it online.

Here’s our guide to renewing your UK passport.

Renewing your passport is a pretty straightforward process and can be much quicker and easier if you do it online.

Here’s our guide to renewing your UK passport.

Josh Daniels
From the Travel team
5
minute read
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Posted 6 MAY 2021

When should I renew my UK passport?

Before you plan a trip abroad, you should check the expiry date on your passport. If it has expired, don’t start making travel arrangements until you’ve got a new passport – the number will be different, and your old passport number will no longer be valid.

If you have fewer than six months on your passport before it expires, it’s best to get it renewed straight away. Certain countries will only let you in if you have at least six months left on your passport from your return date to the UK.

Will any unexpired time be added to my new passport?

Not anymore. In September 2018, Her Majesty’s Passport Office changed its policy on renewals, meaning that any time left on your old passport can’t be added to the new one.

How do I renew my UK passport?

There are two options for renewing your passport:

  • Online
  • Paper application form from the Post Office

Renewing online is by far the quicker and easier way to get your new passport. It’s also cheaper.

How much does it cost to renew my passport?

It costs £75.50 to renew your passport online with a credit or debit card. It costs £85 to renew your passport by post. You can pay by credit or debit card, or with a cheque made payable to ‘Her Majesty’s Passport Office’.

How long will it take to get my new passport?

Normally, if you’re applying online from the UK, it can take around three weeks for your new passport to arrive. It can take longer if you apply by post or are applying from abroad.

It might also take a bit longer if you apply during peak times like Christmas or school summer holidays.

Also, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Passport Office is working with fewer staff, so you should expect longer than normal processing times.

What if I need my passport sooner?

You must give a valid reason why you need your passport sooner. For example:

• Travel for compassionate reasons
• Proof of identity for work, mortgage or State benefits

There is a ‘live chat’ online service that is available at certain times of the day, but the service can get busy at peak times.

If you need a new passport urgently for the purposes of medical treatment or for compassionate reasons, phone the Passport Advice Line on 0300 222 0000. You should also call that number if you’re unable to attend a passport office appointment because you have coronavirus symptoms, or you’re having to self-isolate.

(If you’re outside the UK, you can call +44 (0)300 222 0000.)

For all other urgent reasons, you can use the Online Premium service or the Fast Track service. But if you're outside the UK, you'll need to apply for an emergency travel document instead.

How to renew a UK passport online

The fastest and easiest way to renew your UK passport is online via the GOV.UK website. The process only takes about 20 minutes. Even better, you don’t need to worry about finding a photo booth at the local shopping centre. Simply upload a digital photo, following HM Passport Office’s rules for digital photos.

If you’re not that keen on taking an appropriate smartphone image, you can still use a specialist photo shop or a photo booth. Some will give you a code which you can use to add the photo to your online application digitally.  

What you’ll need to renew your UK passport online:

  • A digital photo
  • A credit or debit card
  • Your passport

Once you’ve completed the application, you’ll need to send your old passport to HM Passport Office.

If you prefer, you can make an online application using the Post Office’s Check and Send service. They’ll fill out the form for you and take a digital photo. They’ll also send your old passport to HM Passport Office via special delivery. The service costs £16 on top of your passport renewal fee.

How to renew a UK passport by post

You can get a paper application form from either the Post Office or by phoning the Passport Advice Line on 0300 222 0000.

What you’ll need, to renew your UK passport by post:

  • Two identical printed photos that follow HM Passport Office’s criteria
  • Debit or credit card or cheque
  • Your passport

You can also use the Post Office’s Check and Send service for paper applications. Post Office staff will check your application form, to make sure it’s filled out correctly and that you have the right supporting documents, before sending on to HM Passport Office. The service costs £16 on top of your passport renewal fee.

Any supporting documents and your old passport will be sent back to you by post separately from your new passport.

What if I have an unexpired visa in my old passport?

Your previous passport will be returned to you so you can still use the visa. Just make sure you carry both your new and old passports with you when you travel.

What should I do if I’ve lost my old passport?

If your passport is lost or stolen, you must cancel it immediately. You can cancel a lost or stolen passport online via the GOV.UK website. The process usually only takes a few minutes.

You’ll need to wait until you receive notification from HM Passport Office confirming that your passport has been cancelled, before you can apply for a new one.

Once you’ve received confirmation, you can replace your passport either online or by post:

  • If you’re replacing a lost or stolen passport online, you’ll need someone to confirm your identity.
  • If you’re using a paper application to replace a lost or stolen passport, you’ll need someone to countersign your application form and one of your printed photos.

If you find your lost passport once the cancellation process has begun, it will no longer be valid and you won’t be able to use it.

Are there any changes to British passports since Brexit?

Yes, since the Brexit transition, there are a few changes to British passports and travelling to Europe that you should know about.

The most obvious change is the colour of your new passport. New UK passports are now blue, not ‘burgundy’, and no longer display the ‘European Union’ wording on the cover.

If you still have a burgundy ‘EU’ passport, you can continue to use it up until it’s time to renew.

There are also changes to rules for travelling to Europe:

  • For travel to the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, you’ll need at least six months left on your passport, and your passport needs to be less than 10 years old. If you’re travelling to Ireland, you can continue to use your passport up until the expiry date.
  • If you’re driving in Europe, you’ll need a green card from your car insurance provider. This acts as proof that you’re covered when driving abroad. You might also need an international driving permit to drive in some EU countries and Norway.
  • The UK European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is now being replaced by a UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). It works in pretty much the same way and lets you get state healthcare in EU countries at the same cost as residents of those countries – sometimes for free. You can still use your existing EHIC up until its expiry date. You can apply for a new GHIC card on the NHS website.

Remember, the GHIC and EHIC aren’t replacements for travel insurance. They don’t cover things like losing your luggage or getting you home if you’re sick. You should always make sure you have adequate travel insurance before travelling abroad.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

Non-essential travel has been allowed to take place within the UK since 12 April 2021. But please check individual regions before you travel, as the rules may be different.

International travel is not currently permitted before 17 May 2021 at the earliest. Any insurance for travel before these dates is likely to be invalid. This means that, unfortunately, we’re unable to provide any new single trip price comparisons for international policies with a start date prior to 17 May 2021.

You’re still able to purchase annual multi-trip policies. But if you choose to travel against Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advice and current restrictions, you won’t be covered for your trip.

Currently, the FCDO advises British nationals against all but essential international travel. See the latest FCDO advice for further information.

Some essential travel may be permitted before 17 May, subject to FCDO guidelines. However, you may not be covered by any travel insurance you purchase.

Even when rules regarding travel abroad are eased, any insurance policy purchased to cover a trip to a destination where the local authority, or the FCDO, has instructed citizens not to travel, will not be valid.

For more information, please see our coronavirus and travel insurance page.

Until then, stay safe.

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