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The 2020 guide to UK passport renewal

The 2020 guide to UK passport renewal
Image source: Getty Images

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It’s time to renew your passport, and in the past 10 years it’s not just your haircut that has changed. Technology means that the whole passport renewal process can be done completely online. No more sitting in photo booths, spinning the adjustable chair to exactly the right height. Instead you can use your smartphone to capture the perfect shot. But don’t worry, for traditionalists there is still a dependable postal application option.

Whichever option you choose, here is a step-by-step guide to renewing your UK passport in 2020.

Before you start

There are some things to know before you start.

Firstly, you need your existing passport in order to complete your renewal application. If you have lost or damaged your passport, you need to apply for a replacement, not a renewal.

Secondly, after submitting a regular UK passport renewal application, you should receive your new passport in around three weeks. If you need a passport sooner than that, you need to make an urgent passport application, and there are three options: Online Premium, Paper Premium, and a 1 week Fast Track service. All three require you to book and attend an appointment at your nearest passport office.

Thirdly, you can renew your passport at any time, but time left on your old passport will not be added to your new one. For example, if you have 11 months left on your old passport, you won’t then receive a passport that is valid for 10 years 11 months – it will still be the standard 10-year renewal.

Finally, to renew a regular UK adult passport, you do not need a countersignatory as long as you can be recognised from the photo in your existing passport.

Online renewal

You can now do your whole UK passport renewal process online. It will cost you £75.50, and you will need to upload a digital photo.

There are several ways to get a digital passport photo:

  1. Take a photo yourself. This can be done using your smartphone, digital camera or tablet. It’s best to have someone else do this for you. Before taking a photo be aware of the requirements, such as looking straight at the camera, having no hair over your face, avoiding shadows, etc. These can all be found on the website.
  2. Have a digital photo taken at a photo shop. The shop will then either give you the digital file or give you a code to add the photo to your application.
  3. Use a photo booth that gives a code to add the photo to your application. However, not all photo booths offer this service.

Uploading your photo is the first step of your application.

As long as you have your personal information and your previous passport to hand, the rest of your application should be pretty straightforward.

Once you have submitted your application, you will be responsible for returning your old passport to the HM Passport Office.

The Post Office offers a Check and Send service for online applications. For an additional £16 on top of the passport fee, the Post Office will take your photo, fill in your details and submit the application for you. You will need to take your old passport along with you. The Post Office will then send your old passport to the HM Passport Office via special delivery.

With the online application, payment can be made by either credit or debit card.

Paper application

If you don’t want to renew your passport online, then there is a paper application option. It is slightly more expensive than renewing online, at £85. You will need to provide two identical passport photos of yourself (the cost of which is not included in the application fee).

You can obtain a paper application form by going to a Post Office that has a Check and Send service or by calling the Passport Adviceline.

The Check and Send service costs £16 for a paper application. If you choose to use this service, the Post Office staff will check that you have filled in everything correctly and that the photos you have provided meet the requirements.

To pay for a paper application, either fill in your debit or credit card details in the correct section of the form or provide a cheque made payable to ‘Her Majesty’s Passport Office’.

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