How to renew a UK passport | A step by step guide

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(Last updated on: 19/10/2020)

Are you wondering how to renew a UK passport? When it comes to travelling abroad, there is one thing you need that is more important than anything else. And that’s a passport! You can’t travel across country borders without one, except in very particular circumstances such as travelling from England to Wales, for example. So when you’re planning a trip, it is important that your passport is still valid. If your’s is not, then follow these steps to renew a UK passport…

How to renew a UK passport

Why you should renew your passport

The simple answer is because, as stated, for the most part you cannot travel without one. And when travelling abroad, your passport must have 6 months left on it after your return date. So renewing it is incredibly important! Be sure to check – or make note of – the expiry date of your passport so that you know when you’ll need to renew.

A fascinating video about passports.

Renew a UK passport for adults

It is easy to renew a UK passport. This can be done online or with a paper form. Read on to find out how to do it…

Renew your passport online

Head to the gov.uk site and you will find the link to renew your passport online. It costs £75.50 to do so. You’ll need a digital photo, and the form is easy to fill out.

There are rules surrounding the digital photos. Make sure you follow them to avoid your application being delayed. Even if you look the same as you did on your old passport photo, you do need a new one! It must have been taken in the last month, too. You can take it on your phone, get photographs taken at a photo shop and sent to you digitally, or go to a photo booth that offers a code which can be added to your passport application. 

The rules for digital photos are as follows.

Your digital passport photos must be good quality. They must be:

  • In colour
  • Clear/in focus
  • Unedited (no filters, brightening etc)
  • At least 50KB but no more than 10MB
  • At least 600 pixels wide and 750 pixels tall

Your digital photos must also:

  • Be taken against a plain light-coloured background such as a white wall
  • Be in clear contrast to said background (don’t wear white, for example)
  • Not have red-eye
  • Contain no objects or other people
  • In your digital passport photo you must:
  • Have your eyes open and visible (not wearing sunglasses or tinted glasses – normal eye glasses are acceptable as long as there is no reflection or glare)
  • Be facing forwards
  • Be looking straight at the camera
  • Not have a head covering (e.g a hat) except for religious or medical reasons)
  • Not have any shadows on your face or behind you
  • Have a plain expression with your mouth closed
  • Not be covering your face

You can easily find acceptable examples of passport photos online. Simply complete your online application, pay online with a credit or debit card, and send off your old passport.

Renew a passport by paper application

You can get a paper application form to renew a UK passport from two places. These are the Post Office (if it has a Check and Send service) and from the Passport Adviceline. It costs £85 to apply for a new UK passport this way. You also need two identical photos of yourself. The rules of printed passport photographs are the exact same as those laid out above for digital photographs.

To pay for your passport when renewing with a paper application, include your debit or credit card details in the correct section of the application form. Or, you can send a cheque. This is to be made payable to Her Majesty’s Passport Office. You must also send off your old passport.

Important things to note

It is important that if your passport has been lost, damaged or stolen then you REPLACE it, rather than renew it. This is a slightly different process.

When renewing your passport, you will get 10 years on it. It is best to wait until the last possible date, so your passport lasts as long as you will need it. For example, if you renew your passport when it has 9 months left on it, you will not get a new one that lasts for 10 years + 9 months.

Avoid copycat sites. These look like the official gov.uk site but are in fact run by scammers. They can be hard to distinguish, so be sure to double check the URL and make sure you are in the right place!

Renewing a UK passport for a child follows the same process. There are a few extra things to note about children’s passport photographs – such as they must not have a dummy, do not have to be looking directly at the camera (for under 6s) and do not have to have their eyes open (under 1s).

What to do if you’re on a time limit

You can renew your passport urgently if need be. To do this you need to book an appointment at your closest passport office. These tend to be found in big cities. There are three different ways to renew your passport urgently:

  • Online Premium Service: get your new passport at your appointment (adult only).
  • Paper Premium Service: get your new passport within 4 hours of your appointment (adult only).
  • 1-week Fast Track Service: get your new passport within 1 week of your appointment.

Renewing your passport is one of the most important things to do when booking a trip. Make sure yours is in date!

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Hi, am Dr Hayley Stainton

I’ve been travelling, studying and teaching travel and tourism since I was 16. Through Tourism Teacher I share my knowledge on the principles and practice of travel and tourism management from both an academic and practical perspective.

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