If your passport is due to expire within the next 9 months you can apply now to avoid the passport renewal price hike at the end of March. It’s worth checking the expiry date of your passport each time you travel. Each passport is good for 10 years which is a long time, but sooner or later it will come up for renewal.
After 27 March the price of a standard passport will go up by £3.00, and by £12.50 if you apply by post. The Premium Service one day turn-round cost will increase from £128 to a whopping £177 – so make sure you don’t need that particular option. You can apply up to 9 months before the expiry of your old passport, and any overlap will be added to the expiry date of your new passport so you don’t lose out.
Luckily the Passport Office has made it a lot easier now to apply on-line. The Passport Renewal website is very user-friendly, and you don’t have to go through the hoops to have a photo approved like the last time. Provided you meet their requirements, which are set out very clearly on the website page, you can have the photo taken at home with a standard digital camera, or even a mobile phone. With a timer and tripod you could even do it yourself.
It takes about 6 weeks for your application to be processed, provided you follow their instructions. For a simple renewal with a new photo, they are currently quoting 3 weeks before you get delivery of your new passport.
Alternatively you can use the Post Office check and send service, but that will cost you an extra £9.75 on top of the application fee.
Judging by past experience it could take longer in the summer. So if you are thinking of going away on holiday during the peak period you should apply well in advance. You may not be allowed to travel if you do not have a valid passport.
When you do get your new passport, make sure you keep a photo of it on your mobile phone. Passports are useful documents, and if your passport is lost or stolen while you’re abroad on holiday, a photo or copy of it will make your life a whole lot easier.