My passport was due to run out at the end of November this year, and so it was time to part with my beloved burgundy best friend and replace it with a shiny new one.
I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to test out the new online passport renewal system. Still in the Beta stages, it promises to be quick, efficient and user friendly.
The process begins with some simple yes/no questions, before prompting you to enter the issue date of your existing document. You then go through a process of uploading a suitable photo. This gives you a chance to take a photo independently that doesn’t make you look like an escaped convict. Once you upload the photo, the magic of computer wizardry either accepts or declines your attempt. If accepted, be aware that this is only provisional- you may very well get a phonecall asking you to submit another photo if the human checks don’t go your way.
It took approximately 20 minutes from start to finish, and once you have paid, you receive a confirmation email which instructs you to post off your existing passport. This was the part I was most anxious about- I have spent the last few years collecting stamps from the places I’ve been (mostly in the EU), and I worried I would never see them again, so I paid an additional £3 to ensure the original was returned to me by secure post.
I sent my old passport off on Monday evening. By 10:58 am on Wednesday, my old passport had been received, and at 16:32 my new passport application and photo were approved. They posted the new document to me on Thursday morning, and I had it in my hands by Friday teatime.
I cannot believe how easy the process was. Its simple step-by-step format ensures that there is no room for error, which inspires confidence, especially when one has a history of online hiccoughs!
The text messages at each stage of the application process provide further reassurance, and the fact that the whole process took less than a week to complete was extremely satisfactory. My new passport does not make me look like a murderer, and it is packed full of lovely illustrations to go with the stamps I plan on collecting!