When Do I Need To Renew My Passport?
Passport renewal can often go from one extreme to another. While thousands of people forget get to renew their passports for various reasons and end up losing out on holidays or travel plans, thousands of people renew their passport when there is absolutely no need to.
Getting the balance right is all about having the correct information to hand, but with so many information sources out there it's hard to find everything you need in one place. If you are concerned about your passport and if you should or need to renew it, keep reading, we have all the information you need right here in one place.
You DO NOT need to renew if:
Change of address
Many people who are or have recently moved address will go though their list of important documents that they need to inform about their change of address - please note - The Passport Office should not be on that list.
You would be forgiven in thinking that you need to inform The Passport Office as this is one of the most important documents you hold, but unlike a driving licence your passport is connected to you as an individual and your address is not relevant to this document. The only time you are ever asked about your address in connection to your passport is when you apply or renew your passport and this is simply because they need to know where to send your documents. The DVLA and other ID issuers have very different requirements when updating their system as your driving licence and other documents are linked to you and your address.
The same applies if you are thinking of moving abroad or are currently living in another country. The Passport Office have made it even more simple in recent years to apply for you passport from overseas so there's no need to renew your passport for this reason alone. Some people have suggested that perhaps you might need a special passport for living abroad, this is a myth, and your current UK passport is all that you require.
The only reason you would need to renew your passport when moving overseas is for certain visas, as some require you to have at least 6 months left on your passport, as each country has it's own rules and requirements it is always best to check with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office before making any travel plans.
Made minor changes in your appearance
This part can be very confusing as many people are unsure what constitutes as a minor change. If you have recently dyed your hair or have slightly more facial hair than in your previous photo then you will not need to renew your passport. These are what are classed as minor changes along with a change in hair style, a darker tan or the need for glasses or contact lenses.
(!) However please note that if these changes are extreme, for example if a man previously had a very large beard and then shaved to an appearance with no beard, then this individual would be considered (unrecognizable).
You DO need to renew if:
Changed your gender
If you recently made the final step in your journey by changing your gender it is very important that you renew your passport as legally your personal information will no longer be as it was on your old passport and therefore that passport becomes invalid.
When you apply for you new passport you will need to supply one of the following:
• A Gender Recognition Certificate.
• A new birth or adoption certificate showing your acquired gender.
• A letter from your doctor or medical consultant confirming your change of gender is likely to be permanent.
If you're sending a letter from your doctor or medical consultant and you're changing your name, you'll also need to supply both of the following:
• Evidence of your change of name such as a deed poll.
• Evidence that you're using your new name for example a payslip, or a letter from your local council.
Changed your name by deed poll
People decide to change their name legally for many various reasons, whether it's because they've changed their gender, because they've got married or maybe it's because they have decided to go from one name to another, regardless your reasons behind your name change it is important to remember to renew your passport before making any travel arrangements.
If your reason is due to a recent marriage or civil partnership remember you do not have to change your name. If it is your first marriage, by law you are legally entitled to keep your maiden name on your passport (if you so wish), this can be handy if you plan to honeymoon straight after your ceremony and can save you a lot of time and hassle by keeping your current passport until your have more time on your hands or your passport is due to expire.
Changed beyond recognition
These kinds of changes would include things like major facial surgery, as this is likely to alter your faces key features, severe aging i.e. if you haven't had a passport for 15-20 years you would have aged considerable and this would also changed the shape of your key features. Also, if you have only ever had a child's passport and you now older this will also be considered a major change.
You may ask why these changes matter so much to your passport photo and the main reason is due to new and improved facial recognition technology which is a bio-metric method of identifying an individual and comparing live capture or digital image data with the stored image record for that person. Facial recognition systems are commonly used for security purposes but are increasingly being used in a variety of other applications; even your latest smart phone uses this technology.
Damaged your passport
Again, this can be a difficult subject as The Passport Office allows general wear and tear on a passport but requires you to renew or replace your passport if it is damaged, but what is damage and what is wear and tear?
A couple of the main things to look out for is if there are any torn, ripped or missing pages, the bio-metric chip is loose or missing or your personal details are indecipherable (non-readable) all of these things would require you to renew your passport. If you would like a full and in depth explanation on what to look out for please our damaged passport guide.
It's important to know the ins and outs of passport requirements as you want to have all the facts to hand when thinking about renewing your passport. If you would like more information on all things passport related check out our monthly blog
Need more information?
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Passports Office provides relevant information about new passports, renewing an existing passport, and the contact details of key UK passport offices.