How to Apply for a UK Passport and Save £11.50

Itching to plan your next adventure but your passport is about to expire? Or perhaps you’re excited to get your hands on your first-ever UK passport?! Either way, we’ve got you covered on the application process and how to apply for a UK passport renewal or your first UK passport – and save money in the process.

how to apply for a UK passport

What is the application process for a UK passport?

Whether you’re applying for a first child or adult passport or renewing your passport, here’s the steps you can expect to go through:

  1. Get a passport photo
  2. Provide application details
  3. Find out what documents you need send
  4. Pay for your passport
  5. If required, get someone to confirm your identity
  6. Track your application

Both the online application process and the paper form will prompt you about what you need, but here’s what you can expect.

1. Get a Passport Photo

A vital component of the application is your photo; you may want to get this sorted before even starting your application. You can use the guidelines on gov.uk to make sure everything is perfect. 

How to get a perfect photo for your passport

Your photo must be:

  • Clear, focused, in colour
  • Photo should only show the applicant
  • No other objects in the frame
  • Plain background
  • No red eye

If applying online, it must also be:

  • An unedited image
  • Dimensions: 600×750 pixels
  • File size: between 50KB and 10MB 

Where to get your passport photo taken

There are three options when it comes to taking a photo for your new passport.

Photobooth Passport Photos

Probably the most popular option is to head to a photo booth that is set up to take passport photos. You can usually find these at transport stations, as well as in town centres. Photo booths are cost effective – usually costing around £6 for up to 5 photos.

Most photo booths will also give you a digital photo number – often printed alongside your photos – meaning that if you’re applying online, all you will need to do is enter that number as part of your online application form.

Passport Photo Shop or Service

Another option is to head to a shop where they take your passport photo for you. This will cost a little bit more, but since they’re very experienced in this area it’s probably the most reliable in terms of getting it right! Simply give ‘passport photo service’ a google with where you live and lots of options will come up.

Take a Photo at Home

Whilst this is the most cost effective option, it’s also the one most open to things going wrong! However, as long as you follow the rules above, it’s a completely free way to get a passport photo – for online applications only!

2. Provide application details

The lengthy part of the process is filling out all your personal details. It’s important to have all the necessary paperwork at hand, like letters with old addresses and your previous passport. It’s crucial to get the information as accurate as possible. Information required includes:

Personal details

Full name, gender, date of birth, and birthplace.

Contact information

Your current and previous addresses, phone number, and email.

Previous passport

If applicable, you’ll need your old passport number, issue date, and expiry date.

Citizenship

Information on how you acquired British citizenship.

Photo and signature

Your digital photo, a digital signature, and countersignature if applicable.

Additional documents

The website will prompt you to submit supporting documents. They may also require someone to confirm your identity. This may apply if it’s your first-ever passport.

3. Find out what documents you need send

The type of documents you need to send will depend on what passport type you’re applying for. The main thing to know is that you must send original documents – photocopies are not accepted.

Documents needed for first adult passport

You can find a full list of what documents you need to apply on the .gov website. These could include:

  • birth certificate
  • mother or father’s full UK birth certificate
  • evidence of your parents’ immigration status in the UK at the time of your birth
Documents needed for first child passport

These could include:

  • birth or adoption certificate
  • if this applies, any court orders relating to the child
  • For 1 of the parents, send 1 of the following:
    • full birth or adoption certificate (showing both the child’s and parent’s details)
    • naturalisation or registration certificate
    • the non-British passport they had when you were born showing indefinite leave to remain 
Documents needed for adult renewal passport

These could include:

  • your old passport
  • any valid passports you have from a different country 
Documents needed for child renewal passport

These could include:

  • your child’s old passport
  • any valid passports your child has from a different country 
UK passport rules for going to Europe have changed - don't let them ruin your next holiday!

4. Pay for your passport

Here’s what you can expect to pay for your new UK passport. A standard passport is 34 pages which is more than enough space given that you can often fit a few stamps per page. However, if you’re someone who travels a lot, or who expect to get a lot of printed visas over the next 10 years, you may need to opt for the 50 page option.

How much does a UK passport cost?

Here are all the costs:

Apply online

Apply by paper form

Fast track

Online premium service

Adult (16+) 34-page

£88.50

 £100

£166.50

£207.50

Adult (16 +) 50-page

£100.50

£112

£178.50

£219.50

Child (under 16) 34-page

£57.50

£69

£135.50

N/A

Child (under 16) 50-page

£69.50

 £81

£147.50

N/A

You can save £11.50 if you apply for your passport online on gov.uk instead of at the Post Office. 

If you need your passport quickly you can opt for the 1 week fast track service. They also have a premium service that has a super speedy turnaround of 3 days. However, these fast-track services are only available through online application.

5. If required, get someone to confirm your identity

Some paper passport applications and photos must be signed by someone else (the ‘countersignatory’) to prove the identity of the person applying.

You must get your paper form and one of your 2 print photos signed if you’re applying for a:

  • first adult passport
  • first child passport
  • replacement for a lost, stolen or damaged passport
  • renewal of a passport for a child aged 11 or under
  • renewal of a passport if your appearance has changed and you cannot be recognised from your existing passport

The countersignatory must:

  • have known you (or the adult who signed the form if the passport is for a child under 16) for at least 2 years
  • be able to identify you, for example they’re a friend, neighbour or colleague (not just someone who knows you professionally)
  • be ‘a person of good standing in their community’ or work in (or be retired from) a recognised profession

You can find more details on this here.

6. Track your application

You’ve paid for your passport and finished the application. But just how long will it take to get your hands on it? 

The time it takes to receive your passport varies. Although it typically takes around 3 weeks to process a standard application, the government have advised applicants to give the process at least 10 weeks to be completed. Meaning you shouldn’t book any international travel until you have your new passport. 

You’ll be given a special tracking number starting with ‘PEX’ or ‘POD’. Use this code to check the progress and delivery date. 

However, if you’re in a hurry to jet off, you can pay an additional fee for the fast-track service, which will deliver your passport within a week. 

How long will you have to wait for your new passport to arrive?

As noted above, the government have advised that you should allow 10 weeks for your new passport to arrive. However, the good news is that for many, it comes much sooner.

We asked close to 100 Cheap Holiday Expert followers to share how long it actually took them to receive their passport in 2023.

How long does it take to renew a passport in 2024? With the UK government advising 10 weeks, we asked 100 people how realistic that was.
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