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Common passport questions

Lost, stolen or damaged passports

What to do

  • If you need to travel urgently or within 6 weeks you can apply for an emergency travel document. If you do not need to travel urgently or within 6 weeks then you can apply using the government website.

  • You can report a stolen passport online. Stolen passports should also be reported to the police. You can report a stolen passport by telephoning 101 in the UK, or report the theft to the local police if you are abroad. Ask for a written police report as you may need to provide this to the British Embassy when applying for a new passport, and you may need it to claim for the expense involved in changing your travel plans with your travel insurer.

  • If you don’t plan to travel for at least four weeks, the best option is to pick up an application form from your local Post Office or use our Passport Check & Send service and we’ll help you ensure you get your application right the first time, without having to send further applications. It takes an average of three weeks to get your passport using this standard service, but it can take six weeks or longer during the peak summer months, so give yourself plenty of time before you plan to travel.

Damaged passport 

  • HM Passport Office classes a passport as damaged if:

    • Details are indecipherable
    • The laminate has lifted enough to allow the possibility of photo substitution
    • There’s discolouration of the bio-data page
    • There’s chemical or ink spillage on any page
    • There are missing or detached pages
    • The chip or antenna shows through the end paper on the back cover for the new style e-passports
    • The chip has been identified as damaged after investigation

Getting a replacement

  • If you have an overseas trip booked that’s shorter than a month away, you’ll need to use the Fast Track service. This involves attending an appointment at a Passport Office (you can choose between Belfast, Durham, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Newport or Peterborough), where you’ll need to hand in:

    • A completed application form
    • Two valid passport photos
    • Any supporting documents

    You’re guaranteed to receive your new passport in seven days but these appointments get booked up quickly – especially in peak season – so book one as soon as possible.

  • While a simple passport renewal can be done in a day, a lost passport cannot be replaced using the Passport Office’s one-day Premium Service. There are a couple of exceptions, but only in extreme circumstances such as a medical emergency or if you have suffered a bereavement. If this is the case, you’ll need to contact the Passport Office directly.

  • If you lose your passport before your trip or even while you're away, your travel insurance policy provider may be able to help you with some of your costs. If you're not already insured, then take a look at our travel insurance so that we can help keep you protected on your travels.

New and replacement passports

  • If you need to renew your passport and have more than four weeks before you travel, pick up an application form from your local Post Office or use our online Passport Check & Send process.

    If you need your passport more urgently, then read the Government’s official passport advice to find out more on soon to expire passports.

  • Someone with parental responsibility for the child must apply for the passport.

    You need to give both parents’ details when you apply. If you cannot provide the other parent’s details, you need to say why (for example, you’re the only parent named on the birth certificate or you adopted the child on your own).

  • Many people pack their bags for a holiday or business trip with just a casual glance at their passport expiration date, but if it’s due to expire you may be refused entry. While most countries such as Australia, Canada and the USA just need your passport to be valid for the length of your stay, other countries such as China, Thailand, Egypt and Turkey need its validity to last at least six months. You need to have at least six months left on an adult or child passport to travel to most countries in Europe (not including Ireland).

    In general, many countries that require a visa to enter will require at least six months validity on your passport when entering the country, so make sure you find out whether your passport has long enough before it expires before you travel. Remember that this now includes most EU countries.

  • The best way to find out if your passport is valid for travel to certain countries is to check the Travel Advice section of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) website. Choose the country you’re visiting, before clicking on ‘Entry requirements’ and scrolling down to ‘Passport validity’.

Other passport questions

  • The British Government have been issuing updated biometric passports to UK nationals since 2010, so if you have applied for a new passport since then, your current passport should be biometric. However, if it’s not, your current passport will remain valid until its expiry date and you don’t need to change it. Remember that applying for a new passport can take up to four weeks and occasionally longer, especially in the busy summer months, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get a new passport before you travel.

  • You need 2 identical printed photos if you are applying for a passport using a paper form. You need digital photos to apply for a passport online. You must get a new photo when you get a new passport, even if your appearance has not changed, and your photo must have been taken in the last month. Your application will be delayed if your photos do not meet the rules.

  • HM Passport Office will text or email you at each stage of the application process. They’ll tell you when:

    • Your passport renewal application has been received
    • Your old passport has been received
    • Your application has been approved
    • Your new passport is on its way

    You can track your application using the link and reference on your Digital Check & Send receipt. Remember to keep it safe.

Passport enquiries

Please visit the help pages of His Majesty's Passport Office (HMPO) for enquiries about passport applications.

Contact HMPO

For passport enquiries and complaints

Visit: Passport advice on GOV.UK

Contact Post Office about in-branch services

If you have a question, feedback or complaint about your experience in branch, here’s how to tell us.

For enquiries about passport applications, please contact HMPO using the details provided earlier on this page.

Send us a message

Please complete our enquiries form to tell us what you’d like to know or share feedback on your experience.

Make a complaint

If you’re not happy with your Post Office experience, please let us know and we’ll do our best to put things right.