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Updated: 13 May 2022

Why you should apply for your passport at least 10 weeks and a day before your travel dates

The passport office advises travellers to apply at least 10 weeks in advance

UK travellers risk not being able to take their summer holidays this year unless they check their passport expiry date at least 10 weeks before they're due to travel - and we advise adding at least an extra day to be safe

Are passports taking longer than 10 weeks? Generally speaking, no. The 10-week deadline does not mean it will take this long to get your passport - many passports are issued faster than this - but it’s important to leave 10 weeks for your application because the passport office will only assist you further when it looks like issuing your passport will take longer than 10 weeks.  

But delivery of your passport could happen at any time up to the final day of your 10-week wait, therefore it’s safest to get your application off 10 weeks and a day before you’re due to head abroad so you can check-in on time.

New rules on travel to the Schengen Zone – do you need to renew your passport early?

Can I get my passport faster?

Yes, although this is currently difficult because the faster services offered are appointment based and there are very few appointments available. The passport office runs a one-week fast track service and online premium service.

Passport office online premium service: The online premium service is, in theory, the fastest way to apply for a passport. It costs £177. Ordinarily appointments are available as early as two days from your application but demand is very high. For the past few weeks it has mostly been impossible to find an appointment as they are all booked out.

You should be able to find appointments when they are released at midnight. These appointments will usually be in three weeks’ time.

One-week fast track passports: The one-week fast track service can only be used for renewals or first passports for children and costs £142 (£122 for a child). You’ll need to collect a paper application from the post office and then book an appointment, as above, to submit your forms in person.

What if I have travel already booked?

The passport office advises travellers not to book travel until they have their passport. This is important, because the responsibility for having an up-to-date passport for travel is on the traveller. If you can’t travel, you won’t be able to claim a refund from the airline or tour operator.

However, if you do have travel already booked and discover your passport needs renewal, let the passport office know when you apply. You’ll need to phone or use live chat to contact them, which may involve repeated attempts as both services are often busy. 

Does travel insurance cover passport issues??

Possibly, but it’s unlikely to be easy. 

Most insurers say their policies don’t cover you being unable to travel because your passport has expired. However, the Financial Services Ombudsman has previously warned insurers on this issue, saying customers with certain polices who have ‘done all they reasonably could to chase the passport application’ and ‘put in their passport application in far in advance of the deadlines laid down by the passport office’ may have valid claims. 

Keep proof of chasing your passport, such as emails to the passport office, phone call logs, and screenshots of the passport processing progress every few days.

Do I need to renew my passport?

Millions of people do. Many of us didn’t renew our passports during the pandemic, which has led to the current backlog of applications.

There are also new rules for passports when travelling to the European Union. You may need to renew your passport early to meet these rules.