How long does it take to get a passport and can you fast track your application?

Curious to know how long does it take to get a passport? We explain all you need to know so that your holiday plans aren’t disrupted

Mother and child at airport looking at planes out of the window
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you’ve recently asked the question how long does it take to get a passport, you certainly won’t be alone. Thousands of people have been affected by passport processing delays this year due to ‘unprecedented demand’ following the removal of Covid-19 travel restrictions.

If you’re thinking of booking a holiday for 2023 or jetting off somewhere hot in February, as well as knowing how to find the cheapest flights, it’s also crucial to check whether your passport needs renewing and get this sorted as soon as possible - especially with passport prices going up in 2023 (If you're wondering how much does it cost to renew a passport, check out our handy guide).

Between January and September 2022, 95% of customers received their passports within 10 weeks, according to the National Audit Office (NAO). But around 360,000 people experienced longer passport waiting times and hundreds of holidaymakers were forced to miss their trip as a result.’s Money Editor, Sarah Handley, says: “Make sure you check the expiry date in your own passport as well as that of your children’s so that you don’t get caught out. All EU countries require you to have at least three months left on your passport from the day you plan to leave the country you’re visiting. Your passport must also be less than 10 years old. Note that children’s passports are only valid for five years if they are under the age of 16.”  

How long does it take to get a passport? 

Getting a passport usually means a three week turnaround from when the Passport Office receives your application. But with the Passport Office having been swamped by applications, the advice now is to allow up to 10 weeks for applications and renewals.

From January to September 2022, the Passport Office processed 6.9 million passport applications, an increase of 21% from the same period in 2019.

The Passport Office said it had prepared for the surge in demand by increasing staff numbers by 1,200 since April 2021, taking on more delivery companies and increasing availability for urgent service appointments. However, an investigation by the NAO found that “recruitment challenges, limitations in [the Passport Office’s] systems and unsuccessful efforts to manage demand all contributed to longer than expected waits”.

Limitations in processing applications digitally meant that more applications had to be processed on the less-efficient paper system, while some suppliers failed to meet service levels. 

What’s the fastest way to get a passport? 

If you need a passport in a hurry, there are two services to choose from. You can use the Online Premium Service, which means it may be possible to get a passport within two days of applying.  

With this option, you’ll need to apply online and book an appointment to go along in person to one of the Passport Offices, where you can then get a passport within 30 minutes.  

You’ll pay more for this premium service – this costs £193.50 for a standard passport, and you can only use this service to renew an adult passport issued after 31st December 2001. This option is not available for anyone applying for their first passport.

The second option is the 1 week Fast Track Service. This costs £155 for a standard adult passport and £126 for a child passport.  

Once again you can only use this service for renewals, to change your personal details, replace a lost, stolen or damaged passport or to apply for a child’s first passport.  

In the event you urgently need a passport due to a bereavement or needing urgent medical treatment abroad, call the Passport Adviceline.  

Who needs a passport? 

If you want to travel outside the UK, you will need a valid passport. An adult passport lasts for 10 years and it’s five years for a child one (if the passport was issued when the child was 15 years of age or younger). However, even if you’ve already got a passport, check its expiry date, as you may need to have between three to six months left, depending on the country you’re visiting.  

Across Europe, you typically need at least 3 months left, and with countries including Egypt and Thailand, you should have six months left from the date of arrival.

You can check entry requirements for the country you’re visiting, including any visas needed, on the Government website

How to apply for a passport

You can apply for an adult passport if you’re a British National, aged 16 or over, and never had a passport before, or your last passport was issued before 1st January 1994. There are different ways to apply, depending on whether you’re applying for your first passportrenewing an existing one, or need to replace a lost, stolen or damaged passport.

If your passport is damaged, and has what the Passport Office calls more than ‘reasonable wear and tear’, you may find it’s not accepted. So in the event the dog’s chewed it, or you’ve spilt coffee over the pages, it’s worth considering a replacement to avoid being turned away at the boarding gate.

You can apply for an adult or child passport online through the official Government website or with a paper application form. With paper applications, you’ll need to send in two identical passport sized photos and have them verified to confirm your identity.  

You can get a paper application from any Post Office that offers the Passport Check and Send service, or by calling the Passport Adviceline.

Using the Passport Check and Send service costs an additional £16, but can speed up the passport issuing process, in the event you have made a mistake. It’s available for both online and paper applications.

If you’re applying for the first time, depending on when you were born, you’ll need to provide your full, and original, birth or adoption certificate, and in some cases a full birth certificate for one of your parents, along with other documentation and photos.  

How to apply for a child’s passport

You can apply for a child’s passport online or via a paper form, similarly to an adult passport. The application for a child’s passport must be completed by someone with parental responsibility for the child. You will need to provide details of both parents when applying for the passport. 

If you have adopted or fostered a child, then there is extra advice on the Government’s website.

How much does a passport cost? 

If you apply online, it now costs £82.50 for a standard passport and £93 for paper applications. Child passports cost £53.50 or £64.

If you travel a lot, you can pay more for a Frequent Traveller passport, which has 50 pages, instead of the standard 34 - and costs £93.50 for adults or £104 by post.

For children under 16, a Frequent Traveller passport costs £64.50 online or £75 by post. 

If you were born on, or before 2nd September 1929, you can get a free passport. 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 OnlineBy post
Adult passport£82.50£93
Child passport (under 16)£53.50£64
Adult Frequent Traveller passport£93.50£104
Child Frequent Traveller passport (under 16)£64.50£75

What happens if your passport doesn’t arrive on time? 

You should wait until you have a valid passport in your possession to book your holiday. That way, if your new or renewed passport gets caught up at the Passport Office, your trip isn’t jeopardised. 

The advice from the Passport Office is clear too - “you should not book travel until you have a valid passport – your new passport will not have the same passport number as your old one”.    

If you’ve already booked a trip and your passport doesn’t arrive in time, which means you can’t go, don’t expect your travel insurance to pay out. While most policies will cover lost or stolen passports, it’s very unlikely any will pay out due to delays at the Passport Office.

A spokesperson for the Association of British Insurers, said: "The primary purpose of travel insurance is to cover the costs of emergency medical treatments or repatriation should the worst happen.

“Complying with any border requirements is the responsibility of the person travelling, and policies generally do not cover delays in obtaining or renewing your passport.”

And don’t expect a refund from your travel company either. If however, you’ve paid more for a flexible flight ticket, or booked accommodation with a free cancellation option, you may be able to reschedule your trip, without incurring extra costs.

Rachel Wait
Personal finance expert

Mum of two, Rachel is a freelance personal finance journalist who has been writing about everything from mortgages to car insurance for over a decade. Having previously worked at Shares Magazine, where she specialised in small-cap stocks, Rachel developed a passion for consumer finance and saving money when she moved to She later spent more than 8 years as an editor at price comparison site MoneySuperMarket, often acting as spokesperson. Rachel went freelance in 2020, just as the pandemic hit, and has since written for numerous websites and national newspapers, including The Mail on Sunday, The Observer, The Sun and Forbes. She is passionate about helping families become more confident with their finances, giving them the tools they need to take control of their money and make savings. In her spare time, Rachel is a keen traveller and baker.

With contributions from