If your passport needs renewing this year, it might be best to sort it sooner rather than later because of – you guessed it – Brexit. If we leave without a deal, the UK could end up as a so-called third country within the EU’s free-roaming Schengen zone. This could mean you’ll need six months left to run on your passport before your European holiday destination of choice will let you through the barriers.
With my passport and both of the Mini-Minteds expiring at various points this year, I decided to crack on with renewing all three. Even though mine is still valid until December, I would to have a new one by June which is just when I’ll need it for holidays. Remember that it takes at least three weeks to process your application or longer if you make mistakes which need clarifying.
Unfortunately, the Passport Office won’t backdate my passport so I am essentially overpaying by rushing in this early. But I think it’s a small price for avoiding potential hold-up hassle. Unfortunately, in my hurry, I’ve also overpaid in a different way.
I took the traditional ‘form from the Post Office’ route which is £85 to renew an adult passport and £58.50 for a child (under 16). This was partly because I couldn’t figure out how to take and send a digital photo that would not be rejected. I consoled myself that at least I would save by not taking the Post Office ‘check and send’ service which is £9.75. Stupidly I thought I could stick a second class stamp on the application and send it off. I did try. The nice clerk at my local post office told me it was £6.50 per application to send it securely. As I was sending in current and valid passports, I didn’t argue. But combined with £6 for new photos for all three of us, it’s turned into a pretty expensive venture.
Here’s what I should have done. At the photo booth, you can choose the digital option which gives you photos AND a code to put in your online application which attaches the digital photo to it. Then you can apply online and pay only £75.50 for an adult renewal and £49 for a child. You still have to pay for the photos and sending in the passports though. Even so, I would’ve saved £28.50 which is almost two bottles of Aperol!
While I was at the counter, I noticed that the Post Office has a new ‘no form to fill in’ renewal service. They scan your passport, take your photo and send your old passport in. Genius – although it’s for adult renewal only. It’s £90.90 so not exactly cheap but less than the £97.50 I paid for mine and without the nuisance of getting photos countersigned. Perhaps the Post Office can also take a better snap of me than the photo booth did – one that looks a bit like the picture in my current, ten-year old passport, maybe?
See our SMM guides to holiday money and travel insurance for more tips.