The Passport Office is urging people not to forget the most important item on their travel checklist this year – their passport.
Local residents should check the validity of their passports as March represents the start of the busy period for the Passport Office in terms of handling applications and renewals.
Passport applications are currently being processed at five working days, but this can increase to 20 working days – up to a peak of 40 working days – as the demand for first-time passports and renewals surges from March through to August.
People are advised to plan ahead and apply for passports well in advance of any scheduled travel to avoid unnecessary stress or having to pay for an express service. It is also recommended not to book travel arrangements without first ensuring your passport is in date.
Annie Taylor, senior passport, immigration and nationality officer, said: ‘People often leave their passports in drawers or cupboards at home and forget about them until the days leading up to their holiday. We are urging everyone to make a conscious effort to seek out their passports and check it is valid. Taking a couple of minutes now could potentially save a lot of unnecessary stress and cost later.’
Some countries require passport holders to meet certain entry requirements, which can include, but is not limited to, a six month period of validity on your passport. Travel advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) can be found on this website.
You can apply to renew your passport at any time – you do not have to wait until your current one expires. If there is any time left on your old passport, you can carry over up to nine months validity to your new passport. No refund can be given for any unexpired time above nine months left on your old passport.
Anybody who discovers their passport is out of date, and requires a passport by a guaranteed date, can take advantage of a five working days or one-day express service, subject to certain conditions being met. It is recommended that express applications are made in person.
First-time applicants are reminded they may be required to attend the Passport Office for an interview. Where an interview is required applicants cannot use the express service.
Further information can be found here or you can contact the Passport Office on 685208 or firstname.lastname@example.org.