Passport applications are expected to more than triple this summer as travellers rush to renew or replace their travel documents for their annual holiday.
Between March and August, applications are expected to rise by more than three times as much as during off-peak winter months, HM Passport Office said, adding that this summer could prove to be one of the busiest yet. In December 2012, there were 175,174 applications, but more than 560,000 are expected this July.
The agency employs additional staff during the summer months but has warned travellers to submit their applications early, giving ample time, as there are only a limited number of appointments for fast track and premium services. Also, customers face up to £55.50 extra in costs for emergency counter services.
Paul Pugh, chief executive of HM Passport Office, said: ‘We are urging travellers not to forget the most important item on your travel checklist this year – your passport. Check it is valid in advance of your trip and don’t book that trip without first ensuring it is in date.
‘We work hard to process more than 5.5 million applications each year, so help us to help you have a smooth trip this year,’ he added.
Customers can renew their passport by filling in a form online, calling the Passport Advice Line and asking them to send a form, or by applying through the Post Office’s ‘Check & Send’ service. Applications can take three weeks to process and up to six weeks for first time applicants, as the process includes an interview.
There is also the option to fast track the application to get the passport renewed in a week or a day, but customers must make an appointment at a Passport Customer Service Centre.
The cost of an adult passport was reduced by £5 last September, to £72.50, but applications via the Post Office cost an extra £8.75. Those looking for a fast track service will pay £103 to get their passport in a week, and £128 to have it rushed through in under 24 hours.