The pain of applying for a UK passport

Ok I understand the necessity of having a safe enough procedure in place for applying for a UK passport but does it have to be such a pain? In the UK there are 4 ways to get  a passport:

  1. fill in the application and just post it off, hoping it gets there and back again on time (takes approx 6 weeks)
  2. pay the post office to check your application and get it sent special delivery (suppose to take 2 weeks, not guaranteed)
  3. go to your local passport office (in my case in Liverpool, a completely different city from the one I live in) and pay them a lot more money for the fast track service (1 week supposedly guaranteed)
  4. go to your local passport office and pay even more money for a 24 hour service

Due to the costs involved in option 3 & 4 (and option 4 is not available for a child’s first passport) and the fact the holiday is only 6 weeks away we went for option 2. What a complete fiasco!

It took over a week and a half and 5 trips to 5 different post offices before it got sorted on the sixth visit. Each visit the post office rejected a different element of the application. First the person counter signing our applications signed in the wrong place, then my photo was called into question, then we didn’t have my daughters birth certificate with us, then we had the wrong birth certificate (there are two types, just to make it even more confusing!)

I can understand the need to ensure the application is done properly, and it’s better that the post office picks up these issues rather than wait for the passport office to send our applications back but why didn’t the first post office pick up all the errors rather than this drip feed effect which causes undue delay and stress?

In the, probably vain, attempt to get some answers I’ve written to my Member of Parliament, Ruth Kelly. An extract of the email:

“Given that the date we go on holiday is the end of May, we decided to make us of the post office check and send facility.

This was probably our first mistake but we didn’t want to risk the normal post method as this could take 6 weeks and the fast track appointment service in Liverpool is too costly.

Throughout the last week and a half it has taken 5 different trips to 5 different post offices in Bury, Bolton, Sale, Redditch (which we visited whilst on holiday) and Westhoughton  to get this matter resolved before the applications could be finally sent on the sixth time. I should point out that one of the reasons we had to use different post offices was that we had to fit this in with various holidays and other appointments and, as we are fairly new to the Westhoughton, area the only suitable person to counter sign our application lives in Sale.

Our questions/observations are:

1) Why did 5 different post offices failed the applications on 5 different things?
2) Why didn’t the first post office (in Bury) point out all the errors that needed correcting which would have saved both time and stress?
3)  It appears that there is some confusion over the exact requirements for the photographs required 4 post offices past my wife’s photo without comment whilst the 5th (Westhoughton) rejected it.
4) I would like to know why a child’s passport, if ordered via the post office and/or just sent off for without using the check and send facility, costs 46 gbp but this rises to 81 gbp (an increase of 35gbp)if you use the 1 week fast track service at the local passport office but an adults passport only rises by 25 gbp (from 72 to 97). Why the difference in costs? (it was this increase in costs that  meant we couldn’t afford to use the fast track service and have to hope and pray that our passports arrive in time for our holiday.)

I realise that we perhaps left it a little late in ordering our passports but, firstly we had to wait for my yearly bonus before we knew we could afford to go abroad and, secondly, we didn’t expect the application process to be such a fiasco.

I understand the requirement for having appropriate measures in place, and have no doubt that someone somewhere will use the spectre of terrorism as justification for this process but it seems that the only people this process really inconveniences is the honest law-abiding citizens of this country.

Finally , because of this situation our 1,500gbp holiday of a lifetime is at serious risk as there is no guarantee that the passports will arrive in time. ”

I’ve offered to meet with her in person to discuss further but I kind of doubt any action will be forthcoming.

I also used the passports online feedback facility to complain about this process but I doubt much action will be taken from them either.

As it stands our holiday is in jeopardy, that’s no exaggeration, and it looks like we may lose our holiday and the money spent.



  1. Sorry to hear about your passport woes, mate, but glad you’re making a stand by writing to your MP. Too many people just sit back, complain and do nothing. I was talking to another friend of mine the other day, who was complaining about just this (he is a member of a pressure group and so is used to taking direct action). If more of us stood up for what we believed in (or what aggrieves us), and took things up with our MP – who is paid to represent “our” interest – I think we could then say we truly live in a democracy. Too many people, I fear, think that the only time they get a say is every five years on election day. But it is a foolish MP that doesn’t take note of what the electorate think. So good on you for taking it up with him/her.

    Let me know how all this pans out. I hate beauracracy. And there is more in the UK than I thought.


  2. Many people seem to fail to understand the entire political protest. They, might, vote once every 5 years and then think the job is done. They fail to make proper use of their MP and complain that their interests are not being met. I’m going to give Ruth Kelly a week to respond to my email – even if its only a ‘I’ll get back to you’ type message. Then I’m going to print my email and attach it to a letter of complaint and post it into her office, which I discovered today is on my route home from the train station if I’d have known that before I’d have written rather than emailed.

    Of course if I make too much trouble they might not let me back in the country (assuming the passports turn up that is!)

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