Passport fees hike set to make postal applications more expensive than online

Passport applications will cost more in the post than online for the first time under Government proposals.
Passport applications will cost more in the post than online for the first time under Government proposals.
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Passport applications will cost more in the post than online for the first time under Government proposals.

The Home Office plans will see fees go up across the board, but the hikes will be less steep for those applying on the internet.

Currently, a standard first adult passport or renewal costs £72.50 regardless of how the application is made.

Under changes earmarked to take effect in weeks, the fee will rise to £75.50 for online applications and £85 for postal applications.

Charges for children's passports will go up from £46 currently to £49 online and £58.50 in the post.

The £12.50 increase for the postal service represents a jump of 17% and 27% for adults and children respectively.

The plans, which will have to be approved by parliament before taking effect, are part of a drive to increase the use of online services.

An impact assessment says HM Passport Office is expected to receive additional income of up to £50 million in the financial year 2018-19 from the proposed fee increase.

The document notes that HMPO has identified that up to 200 extra staff may be needed to handle extra demand that may occur between the fee increase becoming public knowledge and the new fees coming into force.

One in ten households in Great Britain do not have internet access, according to official figures.

A spokesman for travel trade organisation Abta said: "The online application process for renewing a passport is relatively straightforward, but there will be some customers who either do not have access to the internet or who may be uncomfortable with the process."

The Government emphasised that adults choosing to apply online would still be paying less than they would have in 2009, with passport fees having reduced in 2012.

Immigration minister Caroline Nokes said: "The passport is an invaluable document that allows millions of British people to travel around the world for business and pleasure.

"Our priority is to ensure that UK travellers have a secure, effective, and efficient service from the point of application to the time they pass through the UK border and it is only right that we should look at this whole process when setting our fees.

"These proposals will ensure that those people who don't travel abroad are not footing the bill for those who do."

The changes would be underpinned by fee-setting powers brought in under the Immigration Act 2016.

If they are signed off by Parliament, they will come into force on March 27.

The proposals are unrelated to the announcement that the UK passport will change colour from burgundy to blue after Britain leaves the EU.

HMPO processes over six million passport applications each year.