Passports and visas

Passports

Everyone in your party, even babies and small children will need to have a valid passport when departing the UK.

Applying for your first adult UK passport

  • You will need to apply at least six weeks before you are due to travel. You can't use other services such as the Fast Track one-week or Premium one-day services due to the fact that as well as completing the form, you will need to have an interview as part of the application process.

UK passport renewal

  • Average processing times are three to four weeks but Her Majesty's Passport Office (HMPO) is extremely busy in the summer months, which means processing times take longer, so try to avoid these periods.
  • You can obtain the application forms online at www.gov.uk/apply-renew-passport or alternatively you can call Her Majesty's Passport Office (HMPO) on 0300 222 0000.
  • It is possible to fast track a British passport renewal, though it is more expensive. However HMPO will add on up to nine months’ unused validity from your old to your new passport, so you do not have to wait for one to expire to get a replacement.

Replacement UK passport

  • If you have lost your passport the HMPO offers a premium one day service, but this will require you attending a passport office in person for an interview.

Top Tip

Many countries also require you to have six months' validity left on your passport on the date you are due to leave these countries, if you do not you could be refused entry. Some countries also require clear, blank pages in your passport. Check before you travel and allow time to apply for a new passport. This is not an issue if you are travelling in Europe.

What to do if your passport is lost or stolen when you’re on holiday.

  1. Report the theft or loss to the local police so you can get a police report.

You will need the report for insurance purposes and to obtain a replacement travel document. Some police authorities will not issue a report for lost passports. In such cases you need to demonstrate that you have at least tried to report the loss.

  1. Contact the nearest British Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. 

You will find their contact details and address in the Travel Advice section of the Foreign Office website. They will get you to complete an LS01 form in order for your passport to be cancelled. Because of the risk of identity theft you should do this as soon as you are aware of the loss of your passport. You do not need to wait until you apply for a new passport.

  1. Apply for an emergency travel document. 

Make sure you apply for an emergency travel document during office hours. Please note that you will be required to pay a fee for the travel document. Whilst documents can be issued out of hours it is extremely rare and an hourly call-out fee is charged along with the fee for the document. Applicants requesting emergency travel documentation are required to apply in person. If your whole family is travelling and you have all had your documents stolen, then you will all need your own emergency travel document. This includes babies and children.

Top tip

Always make copies of important travel documents such as your passport, tickets and ATOL Certificate and/or store them online using a secure data storage site. This will make the process of getting a replacement much more straightforward.

Visas

UK passport holders are lucky to be able to travel to many parts of the world without the need for a visa. 

  • If you are travelling outside of Europe it is always best to check whether you need a visa at the time of booking. ABTA travel agents and tour operators will always let you know, but if you are making your own arrangements go to the Foreign Office website and look up the travel advice for the destination you are travelling to. There you will find details of any visa requirements as well as how and where to obtain one.
  • Many countries will require you to attend an interview and will charge for visas, so bear this in mind when booking and leave yourself time to obtain the visa.
  • There are countries where you can apply for your visa online; these include Australia and the USA. However in certain circumstances you may find that you are then required to have an interview in person. This is particularly likely to be the case if you have a criminal record or even if you have been cautioned by the police. If you fall into either of these categories it may be advisable to obtain your visa before you book.
  • If anyone in your party is not a UK passport holder they may be required to get a visa for countries where you do not.