Apply/Renew Your Passport Now, Avoid Peak Season

Throughout the year there are several peak seasons in travel and when it comes to applying or renewing your UK passport these are definitely the times to avoid if possible. When it comes to applying for or renewing your passport being prepared and having the latest advice and guidance is vital.

We are rapidly approaching one of the busiest periods in passport applications and travel. So, to help you get your application in at the best times we have tips on how to make sure your applications are completed correctly, advice on how to ensure your passport process is hassle free and how to avoid delays.

When is peak season?

One of the busiest holiday booking periods starts in January, during or just after the festive Christmas season the travel agents and holiday booking website often start their winter sales, enticing customers with huge discounts and savings.

After the 1st of January, the peak season for passport applications starts, this can increase waiting time by as much as two weeks. These increase waiting times can cause delays, and if your application is incorrect in anyway could mean even further delays.

Why is it so busy in January?

January is often flooded with post-Christmas sales with various offers to get as many bookings as possible. Some of the large booking operators will offer some of the following to get you in booking those deals.

• Free child spaces
• Extra nights free
• Up to 60% off
• Selected dates only
• Last minute or early booking deals

This combination often means that more and more customers will book their holidays to take advantage of the deals on offer, many of whicht then realise that they will need to renew their passports, which results in more passport applications in a short period of time.

When is the best time to renew your passport?

November and December

With January being such a busy time for the Passport Office if you want to avoid the crowds and long delays get your passport application sent off in December. We understand it is a very busy time of year but you can cut down your waiting time and also ensure you have plenty of time before any travel if you start your application in December.

Renew passport online

If you are applying online you can apply at any time throughout December, this will automatically cut down your waiting time as you will not have to wait for your application to arrive through the post.

Renew passport by post

If you are applying by post please remember that the postal service is extremely busy over this period and it is possible that delays may happen. The Post Office also gives the 20th of December as the last day for 1st class letters to arrive before Christmas.

Please note:

There is also a reduced service over this period between Christmas and New Year. To avoid further delays we recommend all applications are sent no later than the 20th of December.

How long will my application take?

In November and December, the average waiting time for a UK passport application to be processed is between 2-3 weeks.

We have found many customers are actually receiving their passports within 11-14 days, that's almost 50% quicker in November/December as oppose to January. This is a huge difference and if you are looking to book travel in the New Year now is the time to complete your application.

Can I use urgent services?


However, the services that are available to you will depend on your circumstances. To find out if they are suitable for your needs please see below.

Fast-Track 1-week service

You can use this service if you want to apply for one of the following:

• Renew a standard adult 32-page passport
• Renew an adult 48-page passport
• Name change in a standard adult 32-page or 48-page passport - with marriage or civil partnership certificate
• Change a standard adult 32-page or 48-page passport
• Replace a lost, stolen or damaged adult passport
• First child passport
• Renew or change a child passport
• Replace a lost, stolen or damaged child passport
• Renewal for a British national born on or before 2 September 1929

Premium 1-day service

You can use this service if you want to apply for one of the following:

• Renew a standard adult 32-page passport
• Renew an adult 48-page passport
• Name change in a standard adult 32-page or 48-page passport - with marriage or civil partnership certificate
• Renewal for a British national born on or before 2 September 1929

You are unable to use this service if you want to apply for:

• First time adult passport
• First child passport
• Change a standard adult 32-page or 48-page passport
• Replace a lost, stolen or damaged adult passport
• Renew or change a child passport
• Replace a lost, stolen or damaged child passport

Tips for postal applications

• Collect a passport application from your local Post Office - these are only available from larger Post Office, smaller newsagent Post Offices do not stock the passport application forms.

• Get more than one application form just incase - You are only allowed a maximum of 3-character mistakes per application. Anymore than this and your application will be rejected.

• Use BLACK ink and write in CAPITAL letters

• Check if you need a countersignature - If you are unsure how to do this please see here.

• 2 passport sized photos which adhere to the guidelines If you need a countersignature please remember to sign one photo

• Remember to include any and all relevant supporting documents that you need with your application (see the guidebook that comes with the form for more guidance).

Tips for online applications

• Ensure you have all of the relevant information to hand, including all names, parent's details and grandparent's details if applying for a child as well as a credit or debit card and please be aware that when applying online you will need to have access to a printer to print the relevant forms.

• When filling out your details online please check all spelling before submitting as errors may cause delays and may incur additional costs.

• Once your application has been submitted online you will be sent your Declaration Form via email, once you have received this you will need to print, sign and date this form and send it in the post (along with any required supporting documents such as photos, birth certificates and/or proof of name changes).

Will I be contacted by HM Passport Office?

Once you have sent off your application HM Passport Office may want to contact you regarding your application. They may want to verify details you have provided in your application.

This could include any or all of the following:

• Names
• Nationality
• Parents/Grandparents details
• Countersignature
• Birth/marriage/civil partnership certificates
• Contact details

How will I be contacted?

By post

You may receive a letter from HM Passport Office, this might contain requests for further documentation or documents that are not suitable evidence.

If you receive any correspondence it is vital you respond as soon as possible as not to delay your application further.

By phone

If you are contacted by phone HM Passport Office may use a "withheld" or "private number" to contact you on. It is important to answer any unknown numbers as they will not leave a message and if you cannot be reached this will significantly delay your application.

Please note:

Please remember that HM Passport Office may also want to verify the persons details who is countersigning your passport. For this reason please advise the person countersigning your application to also look out for contact similar to the above, as if they are unable to contact them this will also delay your application.

How will I receive my passport?

Premium 1-day service

If you are using the Premium 1-day service you will be able to collect your passport in person at your chosen Passport Office. If you are sending a nominated person please ensure you have arranged this prior to your appointment and that you have also given them a letter which is signed and dated giving them permission to collect your passport (they will also need photo ID, see more information about third parties acting on your behalf.

Other services

If you are using any other services including the Fast-Track 1-week, online or postal applications your passport will be sent to your address using a secure courier service. These services are specially chosen to adhere strict security guidelines..

The courier will deliver your passport in person and it will require a signature. If you are not in or are not available the courier will leave a delivery note stating they have tried to deliver a package and this will have contact details to rearrange delivery.

Ensuring you apply or renew your passport at the right time can save you a lot of time, if you would like to get started now to avoid any delays you can renew passport online or visit our blog for more informative articles regarding passport applications and renewals.

Need more information?

Talk to the Passport Office team

Call Passport Advice Line

Lines open 8am-8pm

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