Each year the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) produces around five million passports for people in the UK so they can go on holiday or abroad on business.
But last July more than 45,000 people in the East of England left their application until the last minute and applied during the busy summer period. They ran the risk of missing their booking as passport applications rose by a third from earlier that year and daily fast-track and premium appointments in the passport office were booked up within minutes of becoming available.
Parents applying for passports for their children proved to be the largest group who left it till the last minute, with more than 15,000 applications lodged in July compared with 7,000 in January. Many were first time applicants applying for a child’s passport and simply forgot or did not realise their child needed their own passport. Young people aged 16 to 20 were also likely to leave it until the last minute for an adult passport, with over 5,000 in July compared to 3,000 in January.
Looking ahead to this summer, IPS is launching a campaign to encourage anyone who knows they are going abroad this summer to think ahead. Is your passport valid? Will it be valid at the time of your trip? And if you have young children, do they have a valid passport – remember that children’s passports only last for five years, not the ten years of an adult passport.
If the answer is no to any of the above questions, I would urge customers to apply now. September to March is the off-peak season for passport applications, so there’s no better time to apply.
Customers could also save the hassle of worrying about getting a passport in time for a summer trip and a substantial sum of money by not having to use one of our fast-track and premium services. A standard adult passport application costs just £72.50 whereas a fast track service can cost as much as £137. And, you can carry over up to nine remaining months from your previous passport, at no extra cost.
There are three ways to apply for a passport through our regular service: fill in our form online, phone the advice line number (0300 222 0000) for an application form or use the Post Office Check and Send service. To find out more, go to www.gov.uk/apply-renew-passport. Remember to factor in that it may take up to three weeks to be processed – longer if you are a first time applicant.
Just don’t be caught out and forget the most important item on your travel checklist this year – your passport!