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The 2021 guide to UK passport renewal

The 2021 guide to UK passport renewal
Image source: Getty Images

While we are still unsure as to whether 2021 will be a year filled with travel, you still don’t want an expired passport to trip you up. If it’s been 10 years since your last UK passport renewal, you may find that more than your haircut has changed.

You can now use your smartphone to capture the perfect shot and complete your whole application online. But don’t worry, the postal option is still there for the traditionalists.

Whichever option you prefer, here’s our step-by-step guide to renewing your passport in 2021.

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First steps

Before you get started, there are a few things you need to know.

Firstly, you need at least six months left on your passport to travel to certain countries. So while your passport may not have yet expired, if you have fewer than six months to go until it does, then you need to renew.

Secondly, thanks to Covid-19, processing times are longer than normal. Those who renewed in 2020, received their new passports in around three weeks. However, in 2021, the passport office is saying you should allow up to 10 weeks.

The Passport Office is also bracing itself for an influx of applications if more countries are added to the government’s green list, so don’t delay in getting your application in!

Thirdly, to renew a regular UK adult passport, you don’t need a countersignatory as long as you can be recognised from the photo in your existing passport.

Online passport renewal

Renewing your passport online is relatively simple. It costs £75.50 and you only need three things:

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

The first step of the process is to get a digital passport photo. There are a number of ways to do this:

1. Take a photo at home using a digital camera, smartphone or tablet. It’s often best to have someone else do this for you so that you can meet the requirements. These include looking straight at the camera, avoiding shadows on your face and having a plain background. All of the criteria can be found on the website.

2. You can go to a photo booth or shop to have your picture taken. All you need to do is get a code and add that to your application.

3. Alternatively, you can visit a photo shop and get a digital photo. The shop can provide you with the digital file for your application.

Once you have uploaded your photo, the rest of the application is relatively simple. Once it’s been submitted, you will be responsible for sending your old passport to HM Passport Office.

Payments can be made using a credit card or debit card.

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Postal passport renewal

If you prefer not to complete your application online, then you can still submit a paper application for a passport renewal.

This costs slightly more at £85. You can pay either by filling in your debit/credit card details on the application form or by writing a cheque.

Paper applications are available at the Post Office, or you can get one by calling the Passport Adviceline.

You’ll also need to provide two new and identical printed photos of yourself.

Post Office Check & Send

If you are keen to get your passport renewal right, then the Post Office has a Check & Send service.

Its Digital Check & Send service costs £16. The Post Office uses your old passport to fill out the application for you. They will also take your photo using the guidelines, check everything is correct and get it sent off for you.

The Paper Check & Service is also £16. Here you will need to fill in the application and provide the photos yourself. The Post Office will check everything for you to make sure it meets all HM Passport Office requirements. Your application will then be sent off via special delivery.

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