How to fast track your passport application… options available to get your document in time for a holiday or business trip whenever it is
Need a new or renewed passport in a hurry? Follow our guide to the best option available depending on how much time you have before travelling. From fast-track to a week or standard delivery, we’ll reveal the best route to your new passport.
All current passports have European Union written on the cover and all new documents issued until we leave in around two years are likely to continue to do so. When we eventually complete the ‘divorce’ from the EU, rather than instantly recalling all passports and scrubbing them clean of any mention of our ‘ex’, the UK government will simply let documents expire in the normal way and only then remove the EU link.
What will my post-EU passport look like?
For certain, they will still be the same size – the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), and Document 9033 requires a global standard of 125mm x 88mm.
UK citizens who are entitled to claim an Irish passport will be able to do so ‘for the foreseeable future’ the country’s Foreign Minister has claimed.
In the wake of the Brexit vote, the minister, Charlie Flanagan, has made the pledge to clear up uncertainty as to whether the British situation would affect passport entitlement.
He also said UK passport holder would ‘continue to enjoy EU rights’ until the formal exit was negotiated. This will take a minimum of two years.
The comments have been prompted after the vote created a large increase in application for Irish passports from UK residents.
Mr Flanagan said: “The increased interest clearly points to a sense of concern among some UK passport holders that the rights they enjoy as EU citizens are about to abruptly end. I want to state clearly that this is not the case. The United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union but it has not yet left.
“At the same time, the referendum has not in any way changed the entitlement to an Irish passport which extends to those born on the island of Ireland and those claiming citizenship through parents or grandparents born in Ireland.”
He went on to warn that a surge in demand for those wanting to stake their claim for an Irish passport could result in delays for those looking to update or acquire a document for upcoming travel reasons.
He continued: “I urge those who believe they need to apply for an Irish passport immediately to enjoy free travel in the EU, to take full account of the facts before making an application.
Will we be reverting to the old-style British passport after Brexit vote?
Not for now, it would seem, according to new Home Secretary Amber Rudd when pressed on the subject by pro-Brexit Conservative MP Michael Fabricant.
In a written response, Rudd stated: “There are no immediate plans for changes to the format or colour of the UK passport. Parliament will be informed of any changes to the passport following UK withdrawal from the European Union.”
The old passports – often described as blue despite being black – displaying the Royal coat for arms were replaced by the smaller EU-standard burgundy documents in 1988.
The larger, old-style passports, commonly referred to as blue even though the cover was black, were replaced from 1988 by the smaller, machine-readable type, of a standard colour among EU nations, but for British nationals with the royal coat of arms and UK name on the front.
Is your passport about to leave you grounded…
Ensure your passport doesn’t leave you stranded at border control: image credit
Having a damaged or incorrect passport can result in rejection at your destination airport or as you attempt to board your flight in the UK. Give yours an urgent health check right here – right now…
Blank pages: Have you got enough space in your passport...
Too few blank pages in your passport… you could be barred from travelling to many destinations. Most countries requiring a visa will also demand you have a minimum of two blank pages – for entry and exit stamps – but some countries such as Zimbabwe require three, whereas other destinations require four. So, if your destination needs a visa, don’t risk firing blanks at airport, use the following information to check requirements now.
How many blank pages do I need: Find out if you need blank pages and how many by clicking the following link, selecting your destination country then clicking the ‘entry requirements’ selection. Click here for blank page requirements
Help – I haven’t got enough blank pages: Standard passports come with 32 pages, but if you regularly travel to countries requiring visas, you can pay from £85.50 for a ‘Jumbo’ document with 48 blank pages.
– If you urgently need more pages, you’ll need to have you current document renewed. This counts as a full renewal – even with several years left on the current document – with prices starting from £72.50 for a standard-sized document.
– If you’re in a rush, you will be able to use the one-week fast-track service for £103 or the same-day premium service for £128 for the 32-page document or £111 and £137 for the Jumbo passport.
Expiry date: Has time already been called on your trip...
Travelling in Europe won’t require you to have validity beyond the duration of your planned trip. The same is true for many countries beyond Europe – Australia for example doesn’t require additional time – but there are plenty of destinations where you will need to ensure you have additional validity. For example, immigration officers in country’s including Brazil, Turkey and Israel will demand at least six months validity on arrival. You should also look out for quirky rules on validity covering when you leave a country; South Africa requires your passport be valid for a minimum period of 30 days from the date you leave.
How can I find out how much validity I need: Head to the Gov.UK website for the latest information. Click the following link, select your destination country then follow the ‘entry requirements’ link. Click here for blank page requirements
Help I haven’t got enough validity on my passport: You’ll need to renew your passport right away. Use our ‘countdown to panic’ guide to find the best way to get a new passport depending on how long you have before travelling. Find the best way to get a passport for you here
PS… Don’t panic: A leading national newspaper website recently ran a story on its UK platform stating you need 6 months of validity on your passport to enter Europe. This is not correct and the story in question was lifted from the publication’s US website – where the information is correct for Americans heading to Europe.
Changing appearance: Are you looking good to get on the plane...
Adult passports last 10 years, so unless you’ve discovered the elixir of life, it’s likely you may look a little different from when your photograph was taken.
I’ve put on weight/gone bald/lost weight – do I need a new passport: Key features such as nose, eyes and facial structure will usually be enough for immigration staff to see through changes such as baldness, beards and weight gain.
Will I need a new passport after reconstructive or cosmetic surgery: If you have been left looking significantly different, we’d advise you call the passport helpline for official advice. Remember, it’s not just UK immigration staff that will check your documents. There have been documented cases of people undergoing cosmetic surgery while abroad and subsequently having difficulties continuing their journeys as they no longer resemble their ID photos. Beard, losing or dyeing your hair won’t matter.
Contact the passport office for advice.. Online:Send your enquiry here Telephone: 0300 222 0000 From outside the UK: +44 (0)300 222 0000
Damage: Will your passport pass security...
Any document that’s followed you around the world for up to 10 years is likely to be suffering a little ‘wear and tear’, but when do a few dog-eared corners turn into a fatally damaged passport that’ll leave you grounded at the gate?
Official definitions of damage: Have a look at your document and see if it’s suffering any of the following…
Details are indecipherable.
The laminate has lifted enough to allow the possibility of photo substitution.
Discoloration to the biodata page.
Chemical or ink spillage on any page.
Missing or detached pages
The chip or antenna shows through the endpaper on the back cover for the new style e-passports.
The chip has been identified as damaged following investigation.
These are the official guidelines on what constitutes ‘damage’. Here’s what you need to do…
What to do in UK: If you’re still at home, you’ll need to renew your passport asap. It’ll cost from £72.50 depending on how urgently you need it. Find out more here:Find the best way to renew depending on time left before travelling What to do if outside the UK: If you’re overseas when you damage your passport and you need to travel in the near future, you can organise an ’emergency travel document’ which allows you to leave the country you’re in and travel to your destination via a maximum of 5 countries. Find out more here:How to get an ’emergency travel document’
How to change the address on my passport?
Here we look at changes to your situation that you might think need to be reported to the HM Passport Office – but don’t!
Changes of address: Don’t panic! There is no need to change the address that is linked to your passport. It’s true, simply keep on using your current passport – it’s all about you, not your address.
Change of contact details: Once again, no need to have this information updated.
What about dyeing your hair: No. Minor changes such as growing a beard, dyeing your hair or letting it get long don’t require you to update your photo.
Divorce, marry or form a civil partnership: Providing you don’t change your name, you will not need to report these changes.
I’ve become a doctor, do I need to change my title: No! From doctors to professors and beyond, there’s no requirement to update your document.
Emigrate: You might be heading away from our sun-soaked shores, but you don’t need to tell anyone at the passport office.
Do I need a new passport
Sadly, it’s not as simple as checking a date to see if your passport has expired – you’ll need to know if you’ve got enough time left to gain entry to the country you’re visiting. While much of Europe simply requires validity for the duration of your trip, many countries beyond will ask for you have up to six months left. Use the tool below to check how much time your destination demands:
The cost of a British passport is going to jump by £12.50 from March 27 for those who make their application by post.
Buying or renewing online will cut the price increase, with digital applications going up by just £3.
Currently, the Brit passport costs £72.50, regardless of application method, but this rise will hit travellers without internet connection with a 30 per cent hike – taking a new application or renewal to £85.
What about children’s passport applications?
The cost of renewing or applying for a new child’s passport will also jump by £12.50 for offline applications – pushing it up from £46.50 to £58.50. The online cost for under-16s will be £49.
When is the price rise coming into force?
The price rise will take place on March 27.
How to beat the increase
If you are shrewd and your passport needs renewing within a certain amount of time, you can beat the price rises for both online and offline applications.
You can renew your passport at any time, with time left on your old one transferred to the new document – up to a maximum of nine months.
This means, if your passport runs out before December 27, you could get it renewed in the next eight weeks to beat the price hike and not lose any time on the document.
A word of warning, though, don’t do this if you have imminent travel plans, as you’ll have to wait at least three weeks to get the new document through standard delivery.
Will there be a big rush to renew – and will this mean delays?
Yes – it is possible. However, the Government has said it’ll bring in 200 extra staff in the run up to the price hike in March.
How much will my passport cost?
The time required to get your new passport will depend on the type of request you’re making. It’s important to be aware of what you require before you make the application – some will take longer than others to process. Here’s the info you need.
Passport prices are going up from March 27. Here’s the current price and what you’ll expect to pay for standard applications after this date. We’ll update prices on the likes of Fast Track and Check and Send when we get confirmation of increases.
COST FROM 27 MARCH
Adult online application
Adult postal application
Child online application
Child postal application
Adult online jumbo passport (16 extra pages)
Adult postal jumbo passport (16 extra pages)
Premium Service (one day) increases
Travellers looking for a last-minute passport will see the cost soar from £128 to £177 for a standard adult document from March 27.
Fast-Track Service (one week) increases
The Fast-Track one-week service will also be hit by a price hike. From March 27, the standard adult price will jump from £103 to £142.
Scroll through the different types of passports to find the one you need. (prices to rise from March 27, 2918)
All you need to know about applying for a passport
More types of new passport
From multiple passports to changing details on your current document, here’s what you need to know…
New passport for change of details?
You’ve got married, moved home and changed the way you spell your name, but do you need to renew your passport? Here are the answers you’ll need.
You must renew your passportand send additional documents with your application if you change: your name by marriage, civil partnership, deed poll, go back to your maiden name or add middle names. Gender, even if your name remains the same. How you spell your name – eg changing from Stephen to Steven. You will need to follow the process for renewing a passport and send the appropriate documents with your application.
You won’t need to renew your passportif you change your: job, title, address or contact details, emigrate, change your marital status but keep your maiden name, get nationality of another country as well as your British nationality.
If you have disabilities that might affect your ability to apply for a passport, HM Passport Office offers many services to ensure its service is accessible to all.
People who have valid reasons can be issued with more than one passport document. This mostly applies to people who travel a lot on business, and may need to have a passport to travel with while a second document is awaiting a visa for another country.
How: Contact HM Passport Office for details of cost and documents required.
Countdown to panic – how to save your trip
Don’t panic – we’ve got the answers
Here’s our guide to where you should turn for help at different levels of passport panic.* Simply find where you sit in our countdown to panic below, then hit the link for information on the recommended route to getting your passport on time. This guide covers standard HM Passport Office time guidelines. Use the toggles below…
Time before travel: More than 8-6 weeks
Relax: During normal periods, most people can relax with more than 6 weeks remaining before departure day. From first passport applications to renewals, simply make your application, sit back, relax and wait for it to drop through your letterbox. However, peak periods will cause backlogs, so please check the Gov.uk website to confirm current waiting times.
Panic: No need to panic just yet, but if you’re applying for your first passport, you should make the application now to ensure a stress-free build up to your trip.
Passport application methods: With 8-6 weeks before you travel, here are the most cost-effective services. Scroll down for further information.
1)Online applications – cheap with good tracking options Click here for costs and details for online applications
2) Paper applications – cheap, but you could make timewasting errors Click here for costs and details on paper applications
Relax: With just six weeks left before you travel, official advice from HM Passport Office says a simple renewal will be with you in three weeks, but we’d certainly act immediately and get your application process in motion right away – this will protect against possible delays caused by mistakes or high demand.
Panic: If you’re looking to get your First Adult or Child passport then it’s time to hit the panic button. This is your final chance to get a passport within the official time guidelines. Premium and Fast Track options are not open to first time adult passport applicants (Fast Track is available for children). We’d certainly recommend using the Post Office Check & Send service to ensure there are no potentially holiday-wrecking errors in your application.
Passport application methods: With 6 weeks before you travel, here are the most cost-effective services available. Scroll down for further information.
1)Online applications: Suitable for those renewing their passport. Click here for costs and details for online applications
2) Paper applications: Suitable for those renewing their passport. Click here for costs and details on paper applications
3) Post Office Check & Send: A must for those applying for their First Adult or Child passport (during times of normal demand) and for those renewing their passport who want that extra peace of mind. Click here for costs and details on Post Office Check & Send applications
4) Fast-Track: Highly recommended for those applying for their First Adult passport during times of high demand. Click here for costs and details on Fast Track applications
Time before travel: 4-5 weeks and counting
Relax: Official advice says that renewing a passport should take just three weeks, the same official advice applies to the time required to get a First Child passport – however we’d feel less inclined to relax during periods of high demand. Apply right away – find our application suggestions below.
Panic: Need a first adult passport? Hit the panic button now – you cannot use the Fast-Track or Premium service. See below for options.
Passport application methods: With just 4-5 weeks before you travel, here are the best and most cost-effective options.
1)Post Office Check & Send: This is a must for anyone after an Adult/Child renewal or First Child passport. This is also the best option open to those who need a First Adult passport (unless HMPO emergency procedures are in place). There’s no guarantee you’ll get your passport, but it’s your best option now you’ve breached the official time barrier of six weeks.Click here for costs and details on Post Office Check & Send applications
2) Fast-Track application: Suitable for those renewing their Adult or Child passport Click here for costs and details on Fast Track applications
Time before travel: 3 weeks and counting
Relax: Relaxation is not an option for anyone at this point. Action is needed – now.
Panic: We’ve already eliminated First Adult passport applicants from making the plane, but now it’s time for everyone else to hit the panic button. See below for options.
Passport application methods: With just four to 3-4 weeks before you travel, here are the best and most cost-effective options.
1) Fast-Track: This is the only option left open to First or renewal Child passport applicants, but you’ll need to get an interview at least a week before you travel in order for the document to be processed and sent out. The same applies for Adult renewals – make your appointment now. Click here for costs and details on Fast Track applications
2) Premium same-day: The only option remaining for Adult renewal applicants if the timings don’t add up for the Fast-Track service. Child renewal applicants can’t use this service. Click here for costs and details on Premium same-day applications
Methods of application
Here are details on the various ways you can apply for a passport.
How you can and can’t apply for your new passport
Using this system lets you fill out the application from the comfort of your computer. You also pay online, before printing off the application form and sending it to the Passport Office with the usual documents and photographs.
Pros: You won’t have to join the three-hour queue at your local Post Office to obtain a hard copy of the application form for a start. Another advantage of applying online is that you can log in and track its progress using a unique username and password that you’ll be issued with.
Cons: Could leave you open to being duped by copycat sites that will charge you for a service that’s free on the legitimate HM Passport Office site. You’re still exposed to delays caused by incorrect documents, rejected photographs and postal delays.
Cost: Here’s how much your passport will cost using this service:
Adult First passport (includes passport interview): £77.50
Verdict: A handy option that can save time and get the application going without the need to obtain an application form before you start. It will also help ensure you’ve filled in all the right boxes etc. The tracking system is useful, too. Make sure you use sites that begin with https://www.gov.uk – other sites may look the same, but will charge you for what the Passport Office does for free.
This process involves obtaining a form that you will need to fill in and post to the Passport Office. You’ll also need to include payment in the form of a cheque or by entering your debit card details on the form.
Pros: You can order the form in a number of ways and avoid the risk of being duped by a copycat website. You will never be asked to pay for a passport application form. .
Cons: The process is likely to take longer and leave you open to making potentially timewasting errors when filling in the form. Also, if you want to use the online tracking option, you’ll need to wait three weeks and have the barcode number from your application form.
Top tip: If it’s getting close to your departure date and your paper application hasn’t been processed, it is sometimes possible to upgrade your application to use the Premium same-day service. Call the passport office with the barcode number from your application form.
Cost: Here’s how much your passport will cost using this service:
Adult First passport (includes passport interview): £72.50
Child First passport: £46.00
Where: You can get the form by using one of the following options:
Call the Passport Adviceline 0300 222 0000 and ask for a form to be sent to you in the post.
Verdict: There’s not a lot of difference between this and the online application process, apart from the potential to make more errors while filling out the form and the tracking system relies on you remembering to save the barcode number from your application form.
Post Office Check & Send:
This service is offered at selected Post Office branches and can significantly reduce the risk of your passport application being rejected due to mistakes, incorrect documents or problems with your photographs. It could also save up to a week in processing time. You can’t use this service if you apply online.
Pros: Using the Post Office Check & Send service means your application is unlikely to be delayed due to errors. This method will ensure you’ve filled in the right sections of the application form, provided the correct supporting documents (including photos) and paid the proper fee.
Cons: You will need to pay an additional fee £9.75 on top of the standard fee.
Cost: Here’s how much your passport will cost using this Check & Send:
Verdict: If you are applying at peak periods, we would recommend this service even if you are well within the official time guidelines. An error on your passport application can add several days – or even weeks – to the time taken to provide the final document. At less than £10.00, it’s certainly an investment worth making – fixing your nibbled nails will be far more expensive.
Fast Track passport:
Using this service will mean you’ll get your passport within one week of attending an appointment at your nearest passport office. The waiting list for appointments can be up to three weeks, so remember to factor this into your passport plans. You’ll need to provide a completed form, photographs and supporting documents. You might also need to sign for delivery of your passport.
Pros: Makes a great Plan B if you need to get your passport renewed in a hurry. It can also be used to get a First Child passport.
Cons: The Fast Track service cannot be used for First Adult passports. High fees will hurt.
Cost: Here’s how much your passport will cost using HMPO’s Fast Track service:
Adult passport renewal with Fast Track: £103.00
Child First passport with Fast Track: £87.00
Child passport renewal with Fast Track: £87.00
Where: Call the Passport Office to book your appointment by calling 0300 222 000
Verdict: If you’re applying for a renewal or First Child passport during peak holiday periods, we would seriously consider spending the extra cash to ensure your travel plans aren’t scuppered. Don’t put it off, though, appointments can take up to three weeks – making a potential delivery time of up to four weeks.
Premium same-day passport service:
This is the fastest way to get a passport, with your document processed and printed within four hours of attending an appointment at the passport office. You’ll need to book your appointment in advance and this can take up to three weeks. Again, you will need to provide a completed application form, photographs and the correct documents at the appointment.
Pros: The same-day service will be a trip-saver for many.
Cons: Apart from the high cost, this service is not available for any Child passports, or Adult First passports.
Cost: Here’s how much your passport will cost using HMPO’s Fast Track service:
Adult passport renewal with the Premium same-day service: £128.00
Where: Call HM Passport Office to book your appointment by calling 0300 222 000
Verdict: This is the fastest service available, but appointments can take up to three weeks. However, they can also be arranged within a few days in many cases. A vital service that will prevent many trips from being cancelled.
Tracking your passport application
Track your passport applicationTrack your application
The ability to track your passport can make the application process less traumatic. Here’s how it can be done with the various forms of applications:
What you need: To track your paper application you will need the barcode number from your application form. When: You will need to leave three weeks after you apply before you can track your application. Where: Log on here to track the status of your passport application.
Post Office Check & Send application:
What you need: To track your Check & Send application you will need the number from your receipt. When: You will need to leave three weeks after you apply before you can track your application. Where: Log on here to track the status of your passport application.
What you need: To track your online application you will need to save your username and password when you apply. Be sure to make a note of it – the details are only given out once. When: You will then be able to log in and track whenever you want. Where: Log on here to track the status of your online passport application.
TRAVEL UPDATE MAY 2016: Passport changes for entering the US
Travellers heading to the States must read this
Travellers heading to the US should check their passport now as the country’s Department of Homeland Security has revealed a tightening of security measures…
UK residents are among the (mostly European) 38 countries that benefit from the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which allows Brits to visit the US without a visa for up to 90 days.
However, the rise of ISIS fighters being recruited within Europe has prompted the US to announce a tightening of security around the VWP.
Click below to read the full list of changes and how it could affect you.
What’s the change?
If you are planning a visit to the US, you will need to ensure your passport is capable of employing biometric technologies such as fingerprinting.
Is my passport ‘biometric’?
Checking if your passport has biometric capabilities is easy. Simply look on the cover of the passport for the symbol, as indicated in our picture below.
What if my passport is not ‘biometric’?
If not, you may need to apply for a visa. This is not a simple procedure and will require you to attend an appointment in person. You’ll need to visit London or Belfast for the interview. Find out more information here
How long will it take to get a visa?
If you haven’t got a biometric passport and need to get a visa, you’ll have to leave around 25 days to get this processed. This will vary at different times of year, so work out the current wait time here…
Getting your visa will add a few dollars to your trip, too; a standard tourist document will cost just over £100.
How many people will it affect?
Biometric passports were introduced in early 2006 and 6 months validity is required on a passport for visits to the US, so most will be renewing their passport in advance of their trip at this time, Please make sure you’re not one of the few who could be hit by the tightening of security.
And don’t forget your ESTA form…
Even if your passport is biometric, you won’t need a visa, but you will still need to go online and complete your Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) form.
NEW: Can you claim for passport-hit trips on travel insurance?
Don’t be fobbed off
This is a question that many disappointed travellers will find themselves asking after being forced to cancel trips due to passport delays, but the answer is anything but clear. The British Insurance Brokers Association claims that their members’ policies would not be held accountable for cancellations caused by problems at the Passport Office.
However, the Financial Ombudsman Service does not agree; stating that insurers should pay compensation if the application was made in good time. The Guardian quoted the Ombudsman as saying: “As an indication, if the deadline was four weeks and somebody had applied for their passport seven to eight weeks in advance, it (Financial Ombudsman) may expect insurers to pay out.”
Verdict: If you applied within the stated deadlines then don’t be fobbed off by your insurance company and contact the Financial Ombudsman if they refuse to pay. Providing you applied online or by recorded delivery, you should have plenty of evidence to prove your case. Contact the Financial Ombudsman:financial-ombudsman.org.uk
Copycat websites will cost you needless cash
Applying for a passport online? Then make sure you don’t join the 1000s that get caught out by copycat websites. What is the problem: There are many sites that look similar to the official Government site, but charge from £20 to £100+ on top of the official passport fee just to let you fill in an application online. These are then simply printed out and sent to you. You’ll then have to post the form and pay the official passport fee. This will also make the application process take even longer. Are they illegal: Dubious maybe, but it’s unlikely that most are illegal.These sites will usually have carefully worded disclaimers and explainers that ensure they stay within the law. However, these won’t always be particularly easy to find. Need help: If you need help filling in your application form, use the Post Office Check & Send service. This will cost just £8.75 and the counter staff will ensure the form is correct before it’s sent. Can I get my money back: Try writing a letter to the website and you might be lucky, but don’t call their helplines – many of the sites use premium-rate services charging up to £1.50/min How to spot the copycat sites: Only use the official Government website, which starts with https://www.gov.uk.
Lost or stolen passport
Thousands of Brits lose, or have their passport stolen each year, so find out where you’re most likely to lose it and what you need to do if it does happen…
Top 10 countries for losing or having your passport stolen
If your passport is lost, stolen or expires while you’re abroad, you’ll need to get an Emergency Travel Document (ETD). You must be a British national and abroad to apply for one of these documents.
The ETD allows you to leave the country you are in and travel to your destination via a maximum of five countries.
You will need to take the following: A completed emergency travel document application form A recent photograph of yourself
Proof of your travel plans – eg, booking confirmations (or detailed written travel plans if you can’t book ahead)
A police report if your passport has been stolen You will have to pay a fee in local currency, equivalent to £95
Passport photos for men
Women seem to instinctively know how to look good in photographs, but most men need a little help. Here’s our guide to taking the perfect passport pic for fellas. Remember – it’ll be looking back at you for the next 10 years.
Shave: That stubble might look good now, but apart from changing fashions, the less than pixel-perfect reproduction in your passport will simply make your face look grimy. Avoid shaving rash by taking a long hot shower before reaching for the razor.
Hair: A haircut will always help you look better in pics, but make sure you have the chop at least week before your photo session. This will allow it to look more natural and give you a chance to get used to styling it.
Clothes: Forget checks, stripes or slogans, stick to timeless solid colours. Also, don’t wear light colours – the Government bods don’t like your shirt shrinking into the white background. Choose colours that suit your complexion. Dark black shirts and ginger hair, for example, will not usually rate highly as good colour coordination.
Style: Fashions last five minutes, your passport will be with you for a decade… Need we say more. Go for a classic button-down collar.
Pro or booth: Booths are cheap and cheerful to use, but certainly won’t make the best use of your muscular jawline or chiselled cheekbones. Head to your local pro photographer and invest in your future holiday happiness.
Pose: Take a look in the mirror and find a facial pose you’re happy with. However, you must then reconcile this with official guidelines. Sucking your cheeks in or taping down your jowls won’t impress the folks at HM Passport Office.
Subtle smile: The passport office does not like seeing teeth, but a soulless stare translated to a passport photo will make most of us look like a recently arrested serial killer. Perfect a subtle smile that fits with official guidelines.
Sleep: It’s not called beauty sleep for nothing… get at least eight hours ahead of your date with the camera.
Get the right time of day: Are you a morning or afternoon person? Choose your ‘happy’ time to take your pics.
Photos in a hurry
Take the strain out of taking passport photos with this easy-to-use smartphone app
Download this app, which helps you take the perfectly composed pics and then print them out at the right size.
Would you like an Irish-style passport card in the UK? Tell us below
From July 2015, Irish passport holders aged 18+ will be able to buy this new credit card-sized document.
Designed to sit alongside the holder’s traditional booklet-style document, the card will cost €35 (around £26) and last five years – or until the main passport runs out.
The card will be accepted by airlines for travel in EU countries (as well as Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) and make a useful back-up for anyone who loses their main document or simply wants to travel light.
Irish nationals can apply for the passport card by taking a selfie then making the application through a smartphone app. Security features include transforming the photo mug shot into an embedded holographic image.
Comment: The card makes a great back-up for lost passports for anyone travelling within Europe, or those who simply want to travel light. Sadly, the UK currently has no plans to introduce such a card – despite its obvious advantages.
Do you agree that Brits should be offered this option, too? Use the comment section below page to tell us.
How your passport is checked and printed
Want to see what goes on behind the scenes when it comes to making your little red book…
*Our countdown to panic guide is based on information provided on the Gov.uk website on February 11, 2015. Always check for up to date information when making an application and do not book travel or accommodation before you have your passport.
Infographics by Liz Winstone
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