picture of a happy little girl with a passport

What if my child's passport doesn’t arrive in time?

Lizz Banks
Authored by Lizz Banks
Posted: Monday, February 19, 2024 - 18:55

If you’re planning your 2024 holidays, you need to make sure your whole family's passports are renewed ahead of time- but when is it too late? Kelly Johnstone at Avanti Travel Insurance explains everything you need to know

Passport renewals have been in high demand ever since the pandemic hit. People didn’t travel for a couple of years, and then suddenly everyone was itching to explore the world again. And guess what? There were a lot of expired passports! 

If your holiday is coming up and you’re unsure about whether you need to renew a passport, or how to go about it, Kelly Johnstone at Avanti Travel Insurance explains everything you need to know.

When should I renew my passport?

Always check if your passport is valid before you book your next holiday. It’s just as important as booking flights or a hotel, because if it’s not up to scratch then you won’t be able to go!

You will need to renew your passport if:

  • It has expired
  • It is over 10 years old
  • There is not enough time left on it*

*Not having enough time left on your passport often catches people out. The number of months left on your passport is an entry requirement for most countries, and it varies from country to country.

Visit the FCDO website and check the entry requirements for your destination. The ‘Passport validity’ section will tell you how many months are needed on your passport to travel.

How long does it take to renew a UK passport?

At the time of writing, the wait time to renew a UK passport is around 3 weeks. If you need your passport sooner, take a look at the passport fast-track service.

If the passport delays of 2022-23 have taught us anything, it’s to renew your passport as soon as you can. Make sure to check the expiry date and the date it was issued, as you can’t use a passport if it’s over 10 years old.

How to renew a passport online

Renewing online is the quickest, and cheapest way to get your passport sorted.

Just head to the government’s page for passports, where you’ll find the option to renew passports online for adults and children.

 To renew your passport online, you’ll need:

  • Your current passport (expired or soon-to-be expired) 
  • A digital photo (making sure it’s within the normal guidelines)
  • A credit or debit card to make payment

How to renew a passport by post

If you prefer to renew in the traditional way, you can fill out a form and post it to the Passport Office. You’ll need to supply the correct supporting documents along with the fee.

How to renew a passport at the Post Office

If you’d prefer, you can also renew your passport at some Post Offices.

They’ll help you complete your application and send it off either digitally (Digital Check & Send) or through the post (Paper Check & Send).

The Post Office will charge an extra £16 fee on top of the normal passport application cost, and you need to pay for your own photos if you use Paper Check & Send.

How much is it to renew a passport in the UK?

For an adult, it costs £82.50 to replace or renew your passport online. It costs a little more – £93 – if you want to do it through the post.

For children under 16, renewing a passport costs £53.50 online and £64 through the post. 

New passports and renewals are free of charge for anyone born on or before 2 September 1929.

picture of a child with suitcase and passport

How long does fast-track take for a UK passport?

If you can’t wait 3 weeks for your passport, you can use the fast track service.

The ‘Online Premium’ service costs £193.50, and the earliest you’ll get an appointment is two days after you apply. It can only be used to renew adult passports that were issued after 31 December 2001, and you’ll get your passport at a 30-minute in-person appointment.

The 1 week Fast Track service costs £155 for an adult passport and £126 for a child passport. You’ll need a form from the Post Office (you can’t apply online), you can then book and pay for an appointment online. You can use it to renew adult and child passports, or apply for a new child passport. You’ll be issued with a new passport during your appointment.

What if my passport doesn’t arrive in time?

If you’ve applied using the standard service and you’re worried that your passport won’t arrive in time for your trip, there are a couple of things you can try.

Call the Passport Adviceline

If you’re travelling in two weeks or less, you can call the Passport Adviceline on 0300 222 0000. Here, you can track the progress of your passport application and request to ‘upgrade’ your application.

If you meet the eligibility criteria, you have the option to ‘upgrade’ your passport application for a fee. This upgrade promises expedited processing within one week, although there is no guarantee.

You’ll also need to provide proof that you’re travelling e.g. pre-booked flight tickets.

You can also contact the Passport Adviceline if you need to travel due to an emergency, such as the serious illness of a friend or family member abroad.

What other options are there?

If you can’t afford the cost of the Passport Office’s Fast Track and Premium services or you can’t get an appointment due to demand, you have two other options: call the Passport Office directly or speak to your MP to see if they can help.

If you can’t travel because your passport hasn’t arrived in time

If you don’t manage to get your passport in time and you can’t travel, it’s unlikely that you’ll get a refund from your travel provider. You’re also unlikely to be covered by your travel insurance.

Speak to your travel provider(s) to see if there’s anything they can do. They might not be able to provide a refund, but you might be able to change the dates of your trip or offer credit vouchers to rebook.

If you do change the dates of your trip or rebook, don’t forget to update your travel insurance. 


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