New Passport Prices – are they Sky High?
Renewing your passport will be more expensive as of the 27th of March 2018, as the cost of applying rises across the board. People applying for their passport through the post will be the hardest-hit by these changes, as this will cost more than completing an online application for the first time.
How much are Prices Rising?
For people applying for a new or renewed passport online, prices will only rise by £3. Adult passports applied for online will rise in price from £72.50 to £75.50, whilst the cost of passports for children under the age of 16 will increase from £46 to £49.
If you decide to provide by post, these rises will be much steeper. An adult passport applied for by post will now cost £85, and one for a child will cost £58.50, owing to a £12.50 postal charge. This represents a price rise of 17% for adults, and a staggering 27% for children. Families are likely to be hardest hit by these changes, as children’s passports must be renewed every five years, unlike an adult’s which must only be renewed every ten. With the new prices, a parent can expect to pay around £200 to ensure their child has a valid passport up to the age of 16. Despite the changes, getting a passport is still cheaper than it was nine years ago, since prices were lowered back in 2012. Although online applications now cost less than postal ones for the first time, you will still need to purchase a stamp and envelope to return your old passport to the Passport Office.
Why are these Changes happening?
According to the Immigration Minister, Caroline Nokes, the increased costs will “ensure that UK travellers have secure, effective and efficient service” when travelling abroad. She went on to say that the government wants to create “a self-sustainable immigration and borders system”. The fee increase is expected to bring the Passport Office an additional £50 million in 2018-2019.
The changes are also part of an effort to restructure the way the Passport Office is funded. Rather than being funded by taxes, people actually applying for passports will cover these costs. According to Nokes, “These proposals will ensure that those people who don’t travel abroad are not footing the bill for those who do”. Despite this, the extra expense involved with applying for a brand-new passport are still subsidised by making renewals, which require less work, the same price. The government are keen to stress that the price rises are in no way related to the post-Brexit return to the blue passport.
Who will be affected?
As well as families with children under the age of 16, people without reliable internet access will lose out when the new pricing structure comes into effect. According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), 10% of UK households do not currently have access to the internet. The North East of England has the lowest levels of access, which stood at 82% in 2017.
The price changes are partly motivated by the government’s plan to encourage more of us to conduct our business online, but, according to the ONS, 64% of non-internet users simply did not find the internet interesting or useful. A further 20% felt they did not have adequate skills to successfully navigate the online world, suggesting that more support is needed if the government expects more of the population to use online application services.
How do these Prices compare?
The cost of a passport in the UK is mid-range – about on par with France, but cheaper than the US. However, children’s passports are more expensive than a number of our mainland European counterparts – in France, it costs only £15 to purchase a passport for a child under the age of 15. Australia continues to have the most expensive passports, which cost £162 for an adult.
How to beat the Charges
If your passport is set to expire before the end of 2018, it could be worth renewing it now whilst the new charges are in place. In fact, the Passport Office entirely expects droves of people to do so, and are drafting in an extra 200 employees to process the predicted influx of applications and renewals.
You can renew your passport at any time, regardless of when it actually expires. If you do choose to renew your passport early, you can add up to nine months to the expiry date of your new passport. In practice, this means that, if your passport expired on the 30th of October 2018, you could renew it now, and the new passport would expire on the 30th of October 2028 – you would not lose the nine months for which your current passport is still valid. If you have travel plans in the next month or so, however, consider this carefully. The Passport Office usually takes around three week to process applications, and this could increase as demand rises.