Renewing Your British Passport

British Passport Package

UK PASSPORT SERVICE

Fast, Easy with Support

British Passport renewals have moved from paper applications to an online application format. I am sure the last time you renewed your passport you did it from Ottawa or Washington, DC and you most likely used a paper application.

Note: This article is a do-it-yourself guide which will help you file your own application using the HM Passport online process. Alternatively, you can use our company, and we will do most of the work for you; click here to learn more.

Download the paper application process here

Don’t worry, this step-by-step guide will give you an inside look at how to renew your British Passport using the new online format.

Now, before we start, here’s a quick overview of the steps you will be taking:

Total completion time of this process, if you are comfortable with technology, will be a few hours (including preparing your package to be sent by courier).

  • Approximate Cost for the whole process will be: CDN$300/USD$260. If you use a third party like Immigroup (the website you are currently on), we charge in total CDN$544.25/USD$435. To learn more about what we do, click here.
  • The government fee for a British Passport is £105.86 (approximately CDN$190/USD$155, including credit card fees).
  • If you use a third party like Immigroup (the website you are currently on), our all-inclusive fee is CDN$544.25/USD$435. To learn more about what we do, click here.
  • Courier with tracking, $90 to $150 (depending on courier company and your location).
  • Total time it will take to get your British Passport back will be 11 weeks (last update 2022) from the date the package is received at the HM Passport Office.

Alternatively, if you want an even simpler way to do this, and you are willing to pay an extra service fee for it, we have a paper passport application, and we’ll even take care of the digital photo. To learn more, please click here.

What do I need to renew a British passport?

  1. One British Passport (original – not a copy) and your current other country passport, if applicable, as you will need to confirm that the names in your UK passport match your names in your Canadian/USA/other country passport.
  • If your passport has expired for more than 5 years, please go to this page, First British Passports.
  • If you have lost your Passport, keep reading, but please note that you will need to do some extra steps.
  • You will also need a computer with an internet connection.
  1. Email account
  2. Colour Printer with Scanner (If you don’t have a scanner, not to worry).
  3. Credit Card – you will be charged £105.86 (approximately, including credit card fees of CDN$190/USD$155).
  4. One envelope, 9 inches by 12 inches (22.9 cm by 30.5 cm).

How to upload your digital passport photos to the HM Government website? 

This step needs to be completed before you log in to the government website (our next step).

Here you have two options:

Option one: Convert your regular passports photos to a digital format.

Option two: Take your own digital photos (only recommend if you or someone in your family has photography experience and understands shadows).

Recommended steps: Converting your photos to digital

  1. Google the following keywords, ‘Passport photo near me’, or click the link
  • What you are looking for is a photographer that takes passport photos AND can give you a digital copy. Most Costco locations will do this, but it’s good to double-check and call.
  • The photos can be any size but to avoid confusion, just ask for 45 mm high, by 35 mm wide.
  • Tip: bring your own memory stick just in case.
  1. Once in front of your computer, simply upload your digital photo to the HM Passport office photo section of the website.

For how to convert your regular passport photo to digital, click here

For how to take your own digital photo, click here

How to create an account with the United Kingdom Government (HM Passport website)

Tip: Scroll down to the bottom of this webpage to see the online steps.

  1. Go to this website: Click here, but before you start, take a look at all the questions you will be asked, this way you are ready to create the account and fill in the online British passport application. Here are the questions:
  • Was your passport lost or stolen? Click here to learn about this extra step.
  • When was your passport issued?

Explanation: You can find the date of issue on the passport page with your photo. In most cases, it will be 10 years ago, from the current year.

  • Which is your passport issuing authority?

Explanation: You will be given several choices:

  • UKPA, UKPS, IPS, or HMPO (this last option is only picked if the last time you had your passport renewed, you were in the United Kingdom).
  • Other (most people will be picking this option). If your passport was issued from outside of the UK, you will see FCO. This means other is the correct option to choose.
  • Do you have any passports from other countries?

Explanation: If you are a dual citizen (for example: Canadian or American Passport holder), will need to make a colour copy of every single page of that passport, even if blank. See example here.

  • Old Passport Details (number)

Explanation: Look for the 9-digit passport number. It’s located at the top left on your passport page that has your photo.

  • If you have had a name change, please click here for more information.
  • Have you ever used any other names?
    Explanation: As long as your name hasn’t changed from the last time you renewed your UK passport and it matches the name in your Canadian (or other) passport, you will not be requested additional documents for proof of name change, such as marriage certificates or divorce papers.
  • Home address and mobile phone number.

Explanation: DHL courier will be sending your new passport to this address.

  • Getting updates on your British passport application (tracking your passport UK application)

Explanation: You will have two choices, Email update and/or text (note: text only works with cell phones)

Putting the British Passport Package together

Warning: Be careful with this step.

  1. After the submission of your United Kingdom online application, you will be provided with a receipt (PEX number) which contains the address. You must print/write the address exactly as it appears in your receipt or email confirmation.
  2. Correctly indicating your HM Passport office tracking information.
  • The tracking information needs to be on your 9 by 12-inch envelope.
  • This envelope with tracking will be put into your courier package (in a later step)
  • It’s optional to also put this tracking information on your courier package.

pex number for tracking UK passport

Here is an example of a correctly indicated HM tracking

  1. Warning: If you have a Canadian or American Passport, you must make colour copies of ALL 36/48 pages, even if the pages are blank. Click here for an example. 
  2. Have your old UK Passport ready.
  3. Put everything into your 9 by 12-inch envelope.

For an in-depth explanation about PEX numbers and Tracking, please click here.

How to send your United Kingdom Passport to HM Passport office in Durham, UK.

You are now ready to courier your package to Durham, UK.

  1. Use one of the major couriers, DHL, UPS, FedEx, and (Canada) Purolator.

Tip: for of our American readers, please don’t use U.S. Post for this step.

  1. It’s totally up to you the service you request, but you must request tracking and don’t forget to keep your tracking receipt. Expected cost will be $90 to $150.
  2. Here is the address you will be using. You can take a photo of this, or you can print the address here.

sending a courier package to Durham UK

 

How long does it take to get my UK Passport back?

It takes on average 11 weeks (last update 2022) to get your new passport back from HM Passport office in Durham, UK.

Tip: For up-to-date British Passport times, please click here.

How will HM Passport office communicate with me?

  • First, you send your passport package to the UK
  • Then, you will receive a confirmation email from HM passport that they have received your documents and are working on them.
  • You can use the HM Passport Office’s UK website to track the progress on your UK passport application.
  • Once your passport is approved, you will receive an email with the approval notification.
  • Once they send your passport, they will notify you and send you your DHL tracking information.

How will my new UK Passport package arrive?  

  • They will deliver it using DHL and send it to the address you indicated in your online UK passport application.
  • You will need to provide your mobile number, as you will get a text message to notify you of the delivery date and time. Alternatively, you can also get an email notification.
  • Please note, once you receive your newly issued passport, you will get all of your supporting documents and/or old passports in a different package, sent separately by DHL. HM proceeds this way for security measures. Usually, it takes 2 weeks after you have received your passport to get your secondary package.

If you have found this information helpful, we only ask that you come back and give your honest feedback by leaving it below in the comments section. Thank you.

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Step-by-step: How to apply online for a UK Passport

Let’s go through the steps to put together a UK passport renewal application. We’ll take you through each step with clear and easy-to-understand images to help guide you through the procedure.

What you’ll need

  • Your old passport – the one you are going to renew
  • A valid debit or credit card
  • A digital passport photo to specifications – see below for details
  • Supporting documents – if required, they are usually for name changes

UK Passport Issuing Authorities

  • UKPA = UK Passport Agency (before 2006)
  • UKPS = UK Passport Service (before 2006)
  • IPS = Identity & Passport Service (2006 to 2013)
  • HMPO = Her Majesty’s Passport Office or HM Passport Office (since 2013)
  • An embassy or consulate overseas

Step 1: Starting the Application

Go to the following UK government passport page:

Scroll down until you see the following and then click on the green Start now button

Please note that urgent processing involves a different procedure. If you click on the link the arrow points to, it will take you here and if you scroll down, you’ll see the following:

The main takeaway here is that urgent processing of a passport application can only be done if you’re in the UK. Otherwise, you should apply for an emergency travel document if you’re overseas and have to travel urgently.

Once you click the green Start now button, you’ll be taken here where you’re asked the following:

As this tutorial is for UK residents living overseas, we’ve answered No and we’ve chosen Canada from the drop-down menu of countries. Click on the green Continue button.

Step 2: Overview of How to Apply + Basic personal information

After clicking the Continue button on the page shown above, you will be taken to a page that lists the main steps in the online application process for your UK Passport Renewal. Here’s the list from the page:

The last item on the list deals with tracking your application:

If doing an application online is not your strength, click on the I need help doing things online link to see telephone and textphone help lines as well as what times you can call. The service is called Passport Adviceline, but remember if you’re overseas, you have to take into account call charges.  Click on the green Continue button to go to the page where you fill in your date of birth (DD/MM/YYYY) and then click Continue to go to the next step.

Step 3: Getting your Digital Passport Photo

You should have your digital passport photos already taken and saved to your pc BEFORE you begin your online application to renew your passport. Let’s go through what you need to know about how to take and upload your passport photo.

If you’re in the UK, you can go to a photo shop or a photo booth and choose to get a digital photo with an access code which you use to upload your photo to the UK passport website. As we are dealing with UK overseas residents, we’ll instead choose the Take a digital photo at home option as shown below:

Click Continue to go to the following page:

Here we’ve chosen the second option, so we have to have someone take our photograph using a digital camera, or a smartphone, or a tablet. The specifications for your passport photo are as follows:

  • Use a plain light-coloured background
  • There should be no objects behind you
  • There should be balanced light – no shadows on your face or behind you
  • Best to use natural sunlight – facing a window is good
  • You (person being photographed) should stand 0.5 metres (1.5 feet) in front of background
  • The photographer should stand 1.5 metres (5 feet) in front of you
  • Include head, shoulders, and upper body in photograph
  • DO NOT CROP the photograph – this will be done by the UK officials
  • Face the camera – DO NOT smile or frown
  • Take the photograph within a month of applying for your new passport
  • NO HEADWEAR – unless for medical or religious reasons
  • Eyes fully visible – no hair in face, take off glasses
  • If can’t take off glasses – no glare or reflections in your glasses in the photograph
  • DO NOT wear tinted glasses or sunglasses

Assuming your photo has been taken and uploaded to your pc, click on the green Continue button at the bottom of the photo rules page which will take you here:

Please note that although it states you cannot alter your photograph with computer software – this is to avoid manipulation of an image to alter someone’s identity, for example – using Adobe Reader to clean up shadows has been done successfully by some applicants. Again, the best method is to follow the above rules and take a clear acceptable photograph that does not need “fixing”. Click the Choose your photo button to select your passport photo for uploading to the website.

Please note as well that on the next page your photo will be checked online to see if it complies with the requirements we listed above. For example, if your photo has shadows or other problems, you’ll see the following page:

The page will show the photo to the right of the above text, and you can click on the Find out the reason for this result link to see what specifically the issues are with the passport photo you just uploaded. Either:

  • Click on get a different photo to go back and take a new photo and upload it to your pc using the suggestions you will see when you click the Find out the reason for this result Or
  • If you feel they are minor problems that you can correct with a program like Adobe Reader you can take the risk. However, remember if UK passport officials determine you used a software program, your photo will be invalid, and your application may be delayed substantially as you answer questions about why you did this.

If your photo is deemed acceptable you will see the following:

After clicking on Continue, you will see the following:

In other words, you’ll be asked to confirm that you want to submit this digital photo because you believe it meets the rules and will be acceptable to UK passport officials. Click on the green Continue button to submit your digital passport photo.

Step 4: Previous Passports & Stolen Passports

Next, you will see the following question:

Since we are dealing with the renewal of a UK passport, you should click Yes and then click Continue. You will then see the following question:

If you are replacing a stolen passport, click Yes and then click Continue and you’ll see the following:

As it clearly states, you must cancel a stolen passport – the sooner the better. However, if you haven’t yet cancelled your stolen passport, there is an option to do so as you can see above. Once you cancel the passport, you will receive a cancelation code from the UK passport office and then you can continue your application for a replacement passport.

Step 5: Date of Issue & Condition of your Old Passport

On the next page you will be asked to give the date of issue of your previous passport as well as what authority issued your passport.

When choosing your passport issuing authority, you should understand that the acronyms listed in the first option all refer to the UK-based passport authority:

Here are issuing authorities for UK passports (essentially the same agency which has changed names several times over the past decades)

  • UKPA = UK Passport Agency (before 2006)
  • UKPS = UK Passport Service (before 2006)
  • IPS = Identity & Passport Service (2006 to 2013)
  • HMPO = Her Majesty’s Passport Office or HM Passport Office (since 2013)
  • Other = an embassy or consulate overseas
  • On your current passport the issuing authority is indicated by the capital letters just to the right of the date of issue. For passports issued by overseas embassies/consulates it should normally read FCO.

Next, you’ll be asked if your old passport has been damaged:

If you’re unsure whether your passport has been damaged, click on the highlighted link What kind of damage matters? to get more information.

Step 6: Passports from Other Countries & Nationality

You’ll next see the following:

If you click Yes, you will have to provide a colour copy of your passport from that other country. In this case we’ll click No, and you’ll see the following:

Please note that if you are a British National Overseas – this usually applies to residents of Hong Kong who did not lose their British citizenship in 1997; see our explanations of the 6 types of British nationality at the end of this tutorial – then you must choose the second option. Click on Continue afterwards and you’ll see the following:

As you can see, it tells you what your total fees are (£105.86); how long it will take (11 weeks); and what steps you need to complete your application.

Step 7: Old & New Passport Personal Details

What you’ll see next is a request to enter your old passport number and its expiry date:

In other words, enter the number and expiry date of your current passport. PLEASE REMEMBER TO KEEP YOUR CURRENT PASSPORT AS YOU WILL BE SENDING IT TO THE PASSPORT OFFICE WITH YOUR APPLICATION.

Next, you’ll see the following:

Remember to click No, my name has changed if your name has changed since you last applied for a UK passport. In other words, if you have married, divorced, or had a name change for any other reason, after the date your current (old) passport was issued, then click No, my name has changed.

You will then be asked to enter your new name and you will be required to provide a name change document to support your name change, such as for example:

  • A marriage certificate
  • Divorce papers
  • A name change certificate
  • Or, in the case you changed your name without being legally required to do so, you will have to submit a signed declaration.

As well, you should provide proof of your current name. This can include documents in your name like:

  • Driver’s license
  • Heath Card
  • Tax returns

However, if you click on Yes when answering Did you use this name on your old passport? then after you click on Continue what you’ll see next is:

Even if you haven’t changed your name since you last applied for your UK passport, if at any point in your life you have used a different name from the one you currently have, you must click Yes and then list all of them as shown below:

 

Note that you can add more names you previously used by clicking the Add another name link and entering the additional name. Then click Continue.

Enter your Gender on the next page and then click Continue:

Next you must state whether you were born in the UK and in what town you were born if you were born in the UK:

If for some reason your town of birth in the UK has changed the way it is written, enter it the way you previously entered it in your old passport, in exactly the same fashion.  The safest way to do this – as obvious as it may seem – is to have your old passport handy and refer to it for the spelling of your town of birth. A single misplaced letter could delay your application needlessly.

Step 8: Home Address & Contact Details

Next, you fill in the details of your home address. To state the obvious again, enter your current residential address because this is the address to which your new passport will be sent. Make sure the details are accurate, especially your postal code:

By the way, people familiar with Canadian postal codes should notice the mistake we’ve left in. The UK passport website will indeed pick up this mistake and ask you to correct it. Can you see the mistake in the postal code above? Yes, that’s right. We’ve entered an O rather than a 0 in the final digit. This is exactly the type of tiny detail that you can sometimes miss when you’re trying to rush through your online application. Take your time and always double check. It’s that simple.

Next, we fill in our contact information:

Please note that when deciding whether to enter your home phone (cordless or fixed phone) or your mobile (cell) phone, you should consider whether it would be easier to reach you on your mobile/cell phone or on your home phone. If because of work or other reasons you are often away from home, then you may consider it best to list your mobile/cell phone. You should also take into account the time difference between your country (Canada in our case) and the UK, in deciding which phone to list. Finally, it’s usually best to list your mobile or cell phone so you can receive text messages which the UK passport office will send a few days before delivery of your new passport to let you know your new passport is being sent.

Remember that the UK passport office will use that phone number to contact you (as well as your email of course) if there are any problems with your renewal.

Next, you’ll be given the options of receiving updates. These are optional but it’s clearly an advantage to have both emails and text messages to update you on the status of your application. Tick both.

Step 9: Standard or Frequent Traveller?

Next you choose your passport size. This means how many pages your new passport will have. If you’re a frequent traveller, then choose the 50-page option. Otherwise, choose the 34-page standard option. Please note that the frequent traveller passport costs £10 more than the standard passport.

Step 10: Signing & Confirming Who your UK Passport is for

You’ll then be asked to confirm that you understand that you have to sign your UK passport when you receive it.

Remember that UK Passports must be signed by the owner of the passport after you receive it. You must use a black ballpoint pen to sign your passport. Unless you are not able to sign your name because of a disability, most of you will click the first option which states that you will be signing your passport as soon as you receive it.

You sign on the line that says holder’s signature.

 

Note that the page where you sign is opposite your personal information page. Next, you are asked to say who the passport is for:

As we are showing how to apply online for your passport, almost all of you will click Me.

Step 11: Checking & Confirming the details of your application

Next, you’ll be asked to review the information you have so far submitted, and you will have the chance to correct any mistakes you’ve made. You’ll see the following 3 areas:

 

New Passport Details

 

Note that you should use this page to correct any mistakes you find. Click the change link for any detail you entered incorrectly and wish to change.

Note that you should use this page to correct any mistakes you find. Click the change link for any detail you entered incorrectly and wish to change.

Make sure all your contact information including your home address, email and mobile/cell phone are correct as this is how the UK passport office will provide you with updates and where they’ll send your passport. Then when you are certain all the information in this summary of your details is correct, click Continue.

Step 12: What do I need to send to HMPO offices in Durham, UK?

You’ll then be told what documents you need to send as shown here:

PLEASE NOTE: Unless stated otherwise, you must send original copies of the documents requested. If any of the situations applies to you (title, BNO passport; British Protected Person passport; change of gender; renewing a passport issued for less than 1 year; change from British nationality to British citizen) then click on the blue additional documents link.

Step 13: Paying the Fees for your UK Passport Renewal

You’ll then be sent to the payments page:

Note that you can change to a frequent traveller passport if you wish but remember this means paying an additional £10 as the frequent traveller passport carries a £96 fee. So, in that case your total fee would be £115.86.

Next, you have to declare that the information you have given is accurate. Clicking on I agree is similar to signing a document and thus has legal force. As they point out, you could be prosecuted for giving false information.

Click on Continue to payment to finalize your payment. You will be taken to this page where you fill in your credit card details:

Enter your credit card details including the 3-digit CVC security code on the reverse side of your card. You’ll then be taken to a webpage confirming your payment as follows:

Make sure everything appears correct and then click on the green Confirm payment button. Please note you still have the option to cancel your payment by clicking on the blue Cancel payment link at the bottom of the page.

Step 14: Confirmation of Application + Downloading Receipt & Tracking your Application

You will see the following:

Please make sure you copy down your application reference number. As shown in this image if you click on the Download your confirmation link, you’ll now have downloaded this Receipt Page:

As well, you will be given a webpage www.passport.service.gov.uk/track where you can go to track your UK passport renewal using your application reference number (the one starting with PEX …). If you do not print this receipt page, at least make sure you copy down your application reference number. Of course, if you sign up for email (and text message) updates as we did earlier in step 8, then you might not even need to go this webpage, as HMPO will alert you through emails and/or text messages on changes to your application’s status. Regardless, make sure you copy down the application reference number in case there are problems with your renewal application at some point during the process.

Step 15: Brilliant! You’re done!

That’s it! You’ve now completed your online application for your UK Passport Renewal, and you’ve sent off your old passport to HMPO offices in Durham, UK. You’ll receive email and/or text messages letting you know the progress of your application and then you’ll get a text message telling you your new UK Passport is on its way to your home address. Well done!

Types of British nationality

It is important to remember that there are currently 6 types of British nationality given the legacy of British possessions/territories overseas.

  • British citizen – You can live and work in the UK free of any controls. Depends on when and where you were born and your parents’ circumstances when you were born.
  • British Overseas Territories citizen (before February 26, 2002, called British dependent territories citizenship) – you can get consular assistance and you can have a British passport. However, it does NOT give you the automatic right to live and work in the UK and you are NOT considered a UK national by the EU. It applies if:
    • You were born before January 1, 1983, AND you were a Citizen of the UK and Colonies CUKC on December 31, 1982; AND you, your parents, or grandparents were born, registered, or naturalized in that British overseas territory. OR
    • You were a woman married to man who became a British overseas territories citizen on January 1, 1983.
    • You were born after January 1, 1983, AND you were born in that territory AND one of your parents was a British overseas territories citizen or legally settled in that territory.
    • You were adopted in a British overseas territory by a British overseas territories citizen.
    • You were born outside the British territories to a parent who gained British overseas territories citizenship in their own right (otherwise than by descent).
  • PLEASE NOTE: British overseas territories citizens from the following overseas territories became British citizens on May 21, 2002.
    • Anguilla
    • Bermuda
    • British Antarctic Territory
    • British Indian Ocean Territory
    • British Virgin Islands
    • Cayman Islands
    • Falkland Islands
    • Gibraltar
    • Montserrat
    • Pitcairn Islands
    • Saint Helena, Ascencion, and Tristan da Cunha
    • South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands
    • Turks and Caicos Islands
  • PLEASE NOTE: If you were born in a British overseas territory after May 21, 2002, you may be able to Register as a British citizen if you meet certain conditions.
  • British Overseas Citizen – you can get consular assistance and you can have a British passport. However, it does NOT give you the automatic right to live and work in the UK and you are NOT considered a UK national by the EU. It applies if:
    • You were a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies (CUKC) on December 31, 1982 AND
    • You did NOT become either a British citizen or a British overseas territories citizen on January 1, 1983.
    • While most Hong Kong residents lost their British citizenship on July 1, 1997, some became British overseas citizens if they would have been stateless or had one parent who was a British National overseas or a British overseas citizen when you were born.
  • British Subject – you can get consular assistance and you can have a British passport. However, it does NOT give you the automatic right to live and work in the UK and you are NOT considered a UK national by the EU. It applies if:
    • You were a British subject without citizenship on December 31, 1948 and did not subsequently become a citizen of the UK and Colonies, a Commonwealth country, Pakistan, or Ireland.
    • You were a person who had made a claim to remain a British subject despite being a citizen of Ireland on December 31, 1948.
    • You were a woman who registered as a British subject on the basis of your marriage to a man belonging to one of the above-listed categories.
    • If any of these situations applied to you, then on January 1, 1983, you became a British subject.
  • British National Overseas – you can get consular assistance and you can have a British passport. However, it does NOT give you the automatic right to live and work in the UK and you are NOT considered a UK national by the EU. It applies if:
    • You were a British overseas citizen and a resident of Hong Kong who registered as a British National overseas before July 1, 1997.
    • If you were a Hong Kong resident and a British overseas citizen and you did NOT register before July 1, 1997 AND you had no other nationality and would have been stateless, then you became a British overseas citizen on that date.
  • British Protected Person – you can get consular assistance and you can have a British passport. However, it does NOT give you the automatic right to live and work in the UK and you are NOT considered a UK national by the EU. It applies if:
    • This is a limited category for people who were nationals or citizens of Brunei or would have become stateless or were already protected persons.
    • It came into effect on January 1, 1983.