The cost of passports is set to rise for the second time in less than a year. From October 5 the charge for a ten-year adult passport will increase to £66 for the normal postal service (up from £51), £91 for the fast track option (previously £77.50), and £108 for the premium same day service (up from £96.50).
The hike will also affect child and jumbo passports (with extra pages for frequent business travellers), with the cost of a fast-track jumbo application rising by £12 to £97. The new fees represent an average increase of over 15 per cent, and follow a similar rise in December 2005.
The increase in fees has been introduced to cover the costs of the new style ePassport, which includes an embedded secure chip containing the holder's personal details and a scan of their photo. Over one million ePassports have now been issued in the UK, and from the end of the summer all new passports will contain the biometric chip. This is in line with US requirements for countries wishing to remain within the US Visa Waiver Scheme.
The new passport includes a biometric chip
The Passport Service points out that the increased charges will also fund enhanced background checks on applicants and face-to-face interviews for first-time adult passport applicants, which begin in 2007. Says Home Office Minister Joan Ryan: "Passport production is paid for through the passport fee. There is a cost to the anti-fraud measures that we are introducing, but we are clear that it is a price that must be paid to protect the integrity of our travel documents and improve the security of our borders."
Travellers may have seen the charge for a standard ten-year adult passport rise by £24 in the last ten months, but the cost remains competitive when compared with many other countries - New Zealand citizens pay the equivalent of £123 for a ten-year period, while in Switzerland the charge is a whopping £219.
For more information visit passport.gov.uk
Do you think the rise in passport fees is justified? Click on the link below to send us your comments.
Report by Mark Caswell