Don’t Ruin Your Holiday - 4 Week Check
Many people spend weeks or months planning their perfect trip, focusing on the cheapest flights or the best hotels, where to go or what activities they want to do once they arrive, but one thing we are finding more and more is customers are failing to check their passport in time to travel, which can often be disasterous for many holiday makers when travelling anywhere outside the UK.
Thousands of people miss out their holiday plans due to their passports being invalid either because it has expired or because it been lost, stolen or damaged. We advise all of our customers to ensure the check their travel document at least 4 weeks before they travel to avoid disappointment. We are also going to ensure you are fully prepared for your trip including things to remember and top tips to make your trip seamless.
When to check your passport
When you book
Ideally, we would always recommend checking your passport before you book any travel plans, especially if you are booking a last minute get away, as this gives you even less time to apply or renew your passport. Many travel companies or booking sites will ask for your current passport number when you are making your booking.
It is normally at this point when people realise they have misplaced their passport when moving or damaged beyond recognition due to a spin in the washing machine. If you notice these issues at this point then you probably have enough time to use the regular application process, this can be done either online or by post.
However, many people do not look at the expiry date on their passport or may be unaware that due to excess use or damage that their passport has more than just wear and tear and therefore will not be valid to travel. This can often mean people don't know they need to apply or renew until the last minute, leaving some travelers out of pocket and disappointed.
4 Weeks before you travel
We understand with all the things to remember when booking your holiday, you may not have checked your passport's expiry or if you even have it, so if you didn't check your passport when you made you travel arrangements then it is vital that you check your passport at least 4 weeks before you are due to travel.
Allowing a minimum of 4 weeks before you travel gives you the time to apply or renew your passport, which can take 3-4 weeks to be processed during peak season. If you are travelling in less than 4 weeks than we strongly recommend using the Urgent Services These will guarantee you have your passport in time to travel. We will more information on this and peek season travel further down.
How to check your passport
Check if you have your passport
It may sound simply but checking that you even have your passport is certainly the first thing you should do. We are finding that many people do not keep their passports together in one safe place when moving house and then only later on finding out that one or more passports have been lost in the move.
The same also applies to those people who use their passport regularly for ID purposes, IE. For nights out on student tours etc. We always recommend not using your passport for this as it is so easy to get lost or stolen, especially if you have been drinking your belongings are far more vulnerable.
Always keep passports together in one place and make sure that one person is in charge of the passports at all times.
Has your passport expired?
The next thing to look at is the expiry date on your passport. As we said before this often gets over looked but is such an important feature on your passport. You can find the expire date on the photo page of your passport and it is 6th down from the top.
If you have checked your expiry date and it is still in date on date you are due to travel, the next thing you need to look at is how much time is left on it. You may or may not know that many countries require you to have at least 6 months left on your passport to travel. If you are unsure please follow the steps below.
• Visit the foreign and commonwealth website (fco.gov.uk)
• Click the link on the homepage titled "Travel Advice"
• You will now see a list of countries simply enter your travel destination in to the search box for example "Spain"
• Once searched you will come to the overview page for your chosen country, simply click the ''Entry Requirements'' link this will show you some of the most important information about both Passport validity and any further restrictions for entering the chosen country.
Never assume. Always check every detail of your trip and ensure you have checked all the requirements of the country you are travelling to.
Is your passport damaged?
Knowing the difference between a damaged passport or it simply having wear and tear could mean the difference between a luxury holiday or an upsetting time at the airport. Have a look at the information below to whether or not you need to replace your current passport.
Damage may include any of the following:
• Personal details are indecipherable (non-readable).
• The laminate has lifted enough to allow the possibility of photo substitution.
• Discoloration to the bio-data page.
• Chemical or ink spillage on (any page).
• Missing or detached pages
• The chip or antenna shows through the end paper on the back cover for the new style e-passports
• The chip has been identified as damaged following investigation or you have been told the chip is faulty during a border-check.
Wear and tear includes the following:
• Making sure there are no stains or water marks on any pages
• All the information is clear and readable
• The laminate on your photo page is securely in place
• There are no damaged or missing pages
• The chip is in place and undamaged
• The passport binding is secured and not disintegrated
If you are unsure, or you think your passport may be on the cusp of being damaged, don't risk it renew your passport to ensure you can travel.
What to do if you need to apply or renew your passport
If you find yourself needing to apply or renew your passport before you travel, don't worry there are options available to you. You can either apply online or by post, please ensure you have a complete and correct application form as well as 2 passport sized photos Photo Guide and any relevant supporting documents you may need.
Apply or renew online
You can apply for your passport or renew an existing passport online here: [Apply/Renew Online] https://www.passports-office.co.uk/apply_select.asp
When applying online it will ask you to fill in various personal details including your full name, address and your previous passport details (if applicable). In certain circumstances such as first time and child applications, details or parent and grandparent's details will also be requested.
Once your application has been submitted online you will be sent your Declaration Form via email, once received 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).
How long will it take?
Timescales for applications via online will be 2-4 weeks from date they are sent.
Apply or renew by post
If you wish to renew your passport by filling in a hand-written form you will need to obtain a Standard Passport Renew Form from your local Post Office branch (please note that this must be a large town branch, smaller sub-branches in local shops will not often stock these forms).
Once you have filled in your form you will need to send it in the post using the pre-addressed envelope provided with the form. There are three ways by which to send this as follows:
• Use a local post box and send using the pre-paid 2nd class envelope.
• Send via recorded or special delivery (this service will incur further cost from the Post Office and is only recommended if you would like the supporting documents enclosed to be tracked)
• Using the Post Office Check & Send Service this means that the Post Office will check your form and supporting documents to confirm that what you have filled in/supplied is correct. They will charge a fee for this service and please note that this will not speed up your application in any way, it will be the same time-scales as sending via 2nd class post.
How long will it take?
Timescales for applications via post will be 2-4 weeks from date they are sent
If you need your passport renewed or replaced urgently or you are planning on traveling within the next 4 weeks, then we recommend that you use one of the urgent services. This means that you will need to book an appointment in advanced at one of the local Passport Offices listed below:
• London Passport Office
• Peterborough Passport Office
• Newport Passport Office
• Liverpool Passport Office
• Durham Passport Office
• Glasgow Passport Office
• Belfast Passport Office
Services on offer include:
• 1 Day Premium Service (Individuals aged 16 or over)
• 7 Day Fast-Track (Children (Renewal or First Time), Lost, Stolen or Damaged Passports)
You can book an appointment by clicking the relevant office above, or Book Urgent Appointment.
Since 2016 HM Passport Office now requires all urgent appointments to be booked and paid for in advance, this reduces queuing times and missed appointments to avoid delays on the day.
Once your appointment is booked online, you will receive confirmation via email and text message this will include details of your appointment date and time, along with additional information on what to bring with you to the appointment.
How long will it take?
When attending the appointment, it will last approximately 15-20 minutes, if you have opted for the 1 Day Premium Service then you will be given a receipt and will be asked to return after 4 hours to pick up your new passport. If you have opted for the 7 Day Fast-Track Service then the new passport will be delivered to you within 7 days via secure courier service (please note that this 7-day period does include weekends however bank holidays may affect this timeframe).
Save money - Pay monthly
Up until now you could only ever pay for your passport applications in one lump sum whether you paid by cash, credit or debit card, cheque or postal order the whole amount need to be paid in advance along with your complete and correct application form.
This has for many years meant that you were unable to apply for a UK passport unless you had all of the money in full up front, leaving many people with larger families or people on low incomes feeling they were unable to afford holidays and trips abroad.
With the introduction of a pay monthly feature thousands more people are now comfortably able to afford to apply or renew their passport and enjoy trips abroad.
Many customers are now happy to hear that you can actually pay for your passport application monthly. This method of payment is quick and easy to use and does not require any hard credit search or an excellent credit rating.
We are currently the only company to offer this unique pay monthly option and have seen an enormous surge in customers opting to use this new feature.
Can I pay monthly?
Yes, our pay monthly option is available for many different types of people on varying incomes, including if you are a student you're retired, employed, self-employed or even unemployed.
Payl8r, the company that provides the finance for the pay monthly option helps customers that traditionally fail credit checks or have thin credit files. They review customers' affordability and "credit future", not just their credit history, provided that you are a UK citizen and have a UK bank account with a credit or debit card and online banking.
How many installments can I make?
You can choose flexible interest-free payments and spread the cost of your passport application over 2, 4, 6 or 9 months. This will dramatically reduce the initial pay out for your passport application.
Who will the pay monthly option help?
Paying monthly also significantly helps those who are applying for multiple passports such as families or groups travelling together, as a family all applying for first time child passports or renewing their existing passports could incur costs of £300-£500 in addition to holiday and/or travel costs often at the last minute. Research has found that many consumers prefer to pay monthly when having to spend a larger amount.
Being prepared before you travel is important, if you require any further information or would like help applying for or renewing your passport you can visit our website or read more about things that could help you with your passport application in our blog.