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If you need to renew your passport, it makes sense to know the process and how long it will take – especially if you are looking to take your next trip abroad soon. So let’s break it down.
You can apply to renew your UK passport online or by making a paper application.
How long does it take?
The simple answer is three weeks.
If you are applying by post, then you also need to factor in the time it takes for your application to arrive at the Passport Office.
Three weeks is the estimated time, but if the Passport Office needs more information or your application has not been filled in correctly, it may take longer.
To ensure that you don’t make any mistakes on your application, you could pay the extra fee for the Post Office’s Check and Send service. The Post Office offers this service for both paper and online applications. A trained member of staff will check that your photo complies with the criteria and review your application before sending it on. The Post Office charges £9.75 for paper applications (plus the cost of your photos) and £15.40 for online applications (which also covers the cost of your photos).
Can I track my application?
Yes, you can. Applications can be tracked immediately if you make an online application, and after three weeks if you have chosen to do a paper application.
If you have applied online, then you will need to sign in with your application reference number, which begins with ‘PEX’. If you applied through the Post Office using the digital Check and Send service, you will need to follow the same steps – but your reference number will begin with ‘POD’.
If you have filled in a paper form – either by yourself or using the Post Office Check and Send service – after three weeks, you can use the passport application tracker available on the HM Passport Office website. For this, you will need to provide your name, address, email and either the 10-digit barcode number from your application form or the 9-digit number on your receipt from the Post Office.
Can I fast-track my application?
If three weeks is too long for you to wait, then you will need to use a different service: the Online Premium service, Paper Premium service or 1 week Fast Track service. For all three, you need to book a Passport Office appointment and pay online; you can do this up to three weeks in advance.
For the Online Premium service, your appointment will last up to 30 minutes, and you will receive your new passport there and then. You book and pay for the appointment online. It costs £177 (£187 for a 50-page frequent traveller passport). The earliest you can get an appointment is two days from when you submit your application.
If you opt for the Paper Premium service, you usually won’t receive your new passport until around four hours after your appointment. Also note, if your appointment is in the afternoon you may not receive your passport until the next day. For this service, you need to get a paper application form from the Post Office. Then book and pay for an appointment online. The cost is the same as the Online Premium service. You take your completed application and documents to your appointment.
Finally, for the 1 week Fast Track Service, once you have submitted your application at your appointment, you can then expect your passport to be delivered to your home within the week. You first need to get a paper application form from the Post Office and then book an appointment online and pay the fee. The fee is slightly lower for this service, at £142 (or £152 for a 50-page frequent traveller passport).
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