Passports – Everything you need to know

Is there anything more anxiety-inducing than the humble passport?

Stamped Passport

Whether you’re applying for your first, renewing your current, being stared at by immigration, desperately clutching at your pockets to feel it or quadruple checking you’ve packed it with your other travel essentials before leaving – the passport is one of the most stressful parts of travel. 

Unfortunately, it’s not just the process of keeping the passport safe that it’s a figurative nightmare, getting your hands on one can be tricky too. 

However, with a little bit of know-how, a handful of documents and a large chunk of change, you too can get one of the funky little ID booklets that grant’s you access to the world. Let’s get started with everything you need to know about passports.

How to get your first passport

In the UK, or just about anywhere else for that matter, getting a passport is as easy as pie and is simply completed through the Government website. 

Many Post Offices can help with the forms and the processing of applications too, but for the most part, you’re still going to need a handful of important documents. 

A proof of citizenship (birth certificate), photo ID (drivers license) and a minimum of two identical portrait-style photographs of yourself (the kind that makes you look totally insane) are what’s needed to get the ball rolling. If you have had a name change in the past, documents supporting this will need to be provided too. 

In some instances, an interview will be required before a passport will be issued to verify your identity, these are typically harmless and more candid chats that identity interrogations.

How to renew your passport

First thing’s first, a warning – do not book anything until you have your new passport, your renewed passport will not have the same number as your old one. 

To renew your passport, there’s the option of the online service or the paper application form that can be collected from the Post Office that has the Check and Send Service or by contacting the Passport Adviceline. 

For the online service, you’ll need a digital photo, credit or debit card and your current passport whereas for the paper service you’ll need the forms, 2 new and identical printed photos of yourself and either a credit card, debit card or cheque. 

Upon following the instructions in either system, your new passport will be posted to you via Royal Mail, meaning that you’ll get it posted through your letterbox, handed to you if you’re home or you’ll be left a card saying how you can get it. 

How much does it cost to get a new passport?

To get your first or renew an existing passport you will have to pay a fee and depending on where in the world you live, this can vary. 

In the UK you’ll be looking at between £75.50 and £85 (depending on whether you’re renewing online or via a paper form), the USA will be around $135 and Australia will be approximately A$244-366. 

It’s usually worth checking on the Government website which way is the easiest and the cheapest when it’s time for a new one. 

How long does it take to get a new passport?

If you’re unlucky enough not to have a passport by the time you’re looking to set off on a trip, you’re going to be looking at a 3-week wait in the UK. 

However, fast-tracking can be arranged for an additional fee, but does often require special circumstances e.g. work or compassionate reasoning. 

What to do if you’ve lost your passport?

It’s like all of your worst nightmares rolled into one, but don’t worry – losing your passport is a very fixable problem.

Instead of being stranded in a strange country for the rest of your days, you should report your passport missing to the nearest embassy or high commission. If the country that you’re in does not have a diplomatic representation, it’s best to try a neighbouring country. 

Altering the local authorities may also be necessary, but the embassy staff should be the first port of call – you can check with them who will advise on your next steps. For the embassy to issue an emergency passport, you are likely required to produce am alternative form of photo ID. A photocopy, image or scan of your passport, this process will be much easier, but it isn’t a necessity. 

The emergency passports may cost a little extra, but they will get to you quickly with some issued on the same day (take that, Amazon Prime). If you had visas in your lost passport, you will need to replace these by visiting the nearest consulate of the issuing countries. 

What to do if your passport is stolen?

If you suspect that your passport has been stolen you should go straight to the police to ask for a police report – this can then be taken to the embassy or consulate. 

Following this, the steps are much the same as those when losing a passport with an emergency document quickly issued. 

How long do you need on your passport to travel?

As a general rule, most countries will expect that you have a minimum of 6 months before your passport expires, even when visiting for just a few days. 

Additionally, some immigration officials may request that a full page is required for their fancy entrance and exit stamps, although you should get away with it if you smile nicely. The same is true for some visas, and smiling may not quite cut it, so it’s a good idea to check you’ve got plenty of clean pages if you’re a seasoned jet-setter.

Everything you need to know about passports

There you have it – everything (that we think) you need to know about passports.

If you’ve got any other questions or just want to share your heart-stopping passport story, feel free to fire a comment in the section below and we’ll get back to you!

Key information

In a hurry? Here’s some of the key information about passports regularly searched for:

  • UK Passport cost:
    • £75.50 – £85
  • UK Passport delivery time:
    • 3 Weeks
  • How long do you need on your passport to travel:
    • 6 Months
  • What to do if you’ve lost your passport:
    • Contact the nearest embassy

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