Increased Fees for New Passports in the UK
The price of passports is to rise in order to pay for major improvements to boost security and fight fraud.
New passport fees, which will see the price of a standard 10-year adult passport rise by £9 to £51, reflect the cost of implementing key anti-fraud measures to combat the rapidly growing threat of passport fraud and forgery. These include:
- enhanced background checks on applicants;
- the gradual introduction of new biometric ‘ePassports’ from February 2006, which will contain a scan of the passport holder’s unique facial features embedded in a chip held in the passport document;
- face-to-face interviews for first-time adult applicants from October 2006.
The UK Passport Service (UKPS) constantly seeks to improve the security of the document and the passport issuing process in order to combat increasingly sophisticated forms of fraud and forgery. This fee increase will fund the first phase of implementation of these key measures, with a further fee review taking place next year.
Passport fees last rose in 2003 when funding was required to introduce the secure delivery of passports, reducing passports losses during delivery by over 80%, as well as the launch of a database of lost and stolen passports and a trial of new background checks on the information supplied by passport applicants.
Home Office Minister Andy Burnham said:
"Countries all around the world are moving to strengthen the security of identity documents in the face of the growing threat of fraud and forgery. We cannot afford to stand idle. These improvements to passport security do carry a cost – but it is a price worth paying in order to protect passport holders from fraud and afford them continued convenient international travel. The British passport continues to represent excellent value for money.
"We are determined to ensure the British passport remains one of the most secure in the world, and we are one of over 40 countries preparing to issue new biometric ‘ePassports’. These technological advances are now being adopted internationally to improve the security of travel documents and border controls, and will build on successful UKPS anti-fraud initiatives such as the secure delivery of passports and the creation of the Lost, Stolen and Recovered passport database."
Bernard Herdan, Chief Executive of the UKPS, said:
"The anti-fraud measures that the new fees will support will create a huge deterrent to would-be fraudsters. They will help us detect and prevent fraudulent applications, and make our passports even harder to misuse or forge.
"Our focus on tackling fraud and forgery does mean that there are added costs to our customers, both financial and in terms of the convenience with which passports can be obtained. Measures such as new background checks on applicant data and interviews for first-time adult applicants will in the future increase the length of time it takes to process applications. But they are absolutely necessary if we are to protect the integrity of the British passport. The UKPS remains committed to maintaining the highest standards of customer service."
The UKPS will carefully manage the volume of biometric ePassports issued during the anticipated six-month roll-out period. Biometric and digital passports will be identically priced during that period, but that will cease when biometric passports are fully rolled out and digital passport production in turn ceases. The new fee of £51 compares reasonably with current fees for comparable ten year machine readable passports abroad, such as Australia (£64), Ireland (£51.28), Japan (£80.55), Norway (£87), Portugal (£52) and the USA (£47).
The UKPS is a self-funded Agency, reliant on the fee income it generates. Fees are reviewed annually to ensure the UKPS continues to meet HM Treasury requirements to recover all its costs – and those of the FCO non fee-bearing consular services – from fee income. A fee review is conducted each year with a view to any change of fee being implemented when financially necessary and operationally practical.
The new passport fees, effective from 1 December 2005, are as follows:
|–||Post||Fast Track (FT) (1 week)||Premium (same day)|
|Jumbo – 48 page||£62.50(8)||£87(16)||£104.50(9)|