All you need to know about biometric passports.

Among the most powerful passports in the world, the biometric British passport is mandatory when
you plan to travel abroad (outside the European Union and Schengen area).
The passport number consists of a nine digit number.

How to find your passport number?

Presented in the form of a booklet, the document contains all the information relating to the traveler, including a number, unique to each passport. It can be found at the top right of page one and is repeated down at the bottom left-hand side of your photo page.

What is the composition of the number?

The passport number consists of 9 characters in total, including 7 digits and 2 letters. In order, it is presented in the following form: 2 digits, 2 letters and 5 digits.

What is its validity?

The official document has a validity period of 10 years for adults and 5 years for minors. If the minor holder becomes an adult before the expiry date of the document, they can keep using it without asking for a new one.

Passport renewal

How to apply?

For all requests, it is necessary to go to a Post Office equipped with a registration station. The mayor receiving the new requests will not necessarily be the home of the applicant. The list of municipalities issuing biometric documents is available online. The applicant must go to the Post Office in person in order to take fingerprints. Most of the time, an appointment is mandatory in order to be able to fill out the file. Today, the process often done online and is therefore considered as a pre-application. This service is available on the official government website:

Then, you need to ask for an appointment and to provide the required supporting documents. In case of a procedure without an online pre-application, it is necessary to fill out a form, available at the counter of the Post Office and to indicate all the information related to you.
If you need to do your request from abroad, it is necessary to go to a consulate equipped with registration station with the necessary supporting documents.

What are the documents you need to apply?

Usually, in most typical renewal case, the documents to be provided are as follows: a recent identity photo, conforming to the norms (not to be cut out by oneself as the administrative officer will take care of it), a proof of address (with last name and first name and less than a year old) and the pre-application number issued online. Otherwise, fill out and sign the hard copy form available at the Town Hall counter.

If you are renewing your passport, if it is expired or for a first-time application, you need other administrative documents, such as an identity card or a birth certificate. You should also bring back your old passport. The list of documents to be provided according to your situation is available on the government website. 

How much does it cost to get or renew a passport?

For an adult, the price of a new passport or of a renewal is £85.50 if you apply online. You can pay online with your credit card. If you apply by paper or at the Post Office, you will have to pay £95 but you can pay either with your credit card or with cash. For minors under 16, it costs 49 pounds.

What is the delay to get your passport?

Once the file has been filed, the Post Office sends the request by dematerialized media to the prefecture. After instruction and validation, the file is sent to the National Printing Office, responsible for printing the country’s secure identity documents. Usually, this step takes 2 to 3 weeks, but the delays may vary according to the location and the time of the request. Indeed, right before school holidays means departure, therefore the time to get your visa can considerably increase (up to 5 weeks). It is therefore necessary to anticipate your request as soon as possible. However, you can also apply for an emergency passport (only valid for 1 year), in case of exceptional professional events or serious family-related reasons. Once made, the passport is directly sent to the Post Office. The applicant has to go in person to the Post Office to get it.

Traveling with a biometric passport

In 2019, the British passport is ranked fifth in the ranking of the most powerful passports in the world. It has a total of 165 countries accessible (meaning you can visit them without a visa or thanks to an easy visa procedure). Most of the time, the traveler is allowed to stay in the country for 90 days, except if they have a special visa (a work visa for example).

When you plan to travel, be sure that the date of validity of your passport will be enough. Some countries, such as Australia, Bolivia, Brazil or China, require a period of validity of the passport that runs at least 6 months after the date you return from your stay. Your travel document is really valuable: it is important to take care of it (entering some countries can be complicated if the document cover is damaged.) and to always keep paper or digital copies with you.

Visa application and British passports

Nowadays, visa applications are increasingly dematerialized and are therefore made electronically through online applications. Applications are then reviewed and once approved, it is necessary to print the authorization for submission to the country’s immigration office. This procedure is called, “e-visa” or “electronic travel authorization.” Some special visas such as work visas requests are also made online. According to the country where you travel to, agents can stamp the passport or simply check the passport for an e-visa.

In case of an ordinary visa application, as is the case for specific destinations in Africa or in Asia, it is necessary to go to the embassy or to the consulate of the country before departure and to provide the requested supporting documents. There are also specific visas issued only upon arrival in the country and billed by the immigration officer.


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