Since Brexit, even visiting mainland Europe means you need at least six months left on your passport, with many reports of travellers left unable to board flights due to their looming expiry date.
And with much-publicised delays to passport applications being processed, families have been forced to scrap long-planned holidays.
Current Home Office advice is to allow 10 weeks after the date of application to receive your new passport.
Fast track appointments can be booked to speed up the process but have been tough to get in recent weeks as people panic about getting their passports in time for summer.
But, following some simple advice gives you the best chance of getting everything sorted as quickly as possible using the normal application procedure.
Here’s what you need to do.
Previously a physical paper form had to be filled in and posted in order to apply for a passport.
This method can still be used, with the forms available from either a Post Office that has a Check and Send service or by calling the Passport Adviceline on 0300 222 0000.
It costs £85 and you will require two new and identical photos of yourself, typically from a passport photograph booth.
But you can save yourself time and money by applying online here at a cost of £75.50.
What information do I need to apply online?
All you will need to apply for a passport online is your old passport, a credit or debit card and an acceptable digital photo.
The online appliaction will ask you to fill in all the details contained in your old passport, then ask you to upload a picture.
You’ll then need to pay in advance – and make sure you enter the correct email and mobile telephone number to receive updates of how the process is going.
Posting your passport back
At the end of the application process you will be given an address where you can send your old passport.
You should send this as soon as possible as the process of issuing a new passport will not start until it has been received.
It’s recommended that you use a tracked, signed-for, method of post so you can keep an eye on its progress.
The Passport Office will send your old, cancelled, passport back to you in due course.
The perfect picture
If you want to avoid delays it’s important that your picture is acceptable.
For the best chance of your picture being approved you can visit a photo booth or shop to get a digital passport photo.
Once the photograph has been taken you’ll be given a code which you can enter into the application form and the picture will be automatically uploaded.
However, you can also take your own photo using a mobile phone which should be perfectly acceptable as long as you follow guidance.
The photo must be clear and in focus, in colour, unaltered by computer software, at least 600 pixels wide and 750 pixels tall, and at least 50KB and no more than 10MB in size.
The picture must contain no other objects or people, be taken against a plain light-coloured background, be in clear contrast to the background, not have ‘red eye’, and include your head, shoulders and upper body.
In the photo you must be facing forwards and looking straight at the camera, have a plain expression and your mouth closed, have your eyes open and visible, not have hair in front of your eyes, not have a head covering (unless it’s for religious or medical reasons), not have anything covering your face, not have any shadows on your face or behind you, and you should not be wearing glasses.
You will need somebody else to take the picture, as a selfie will mean the camera is too close to your face.
For general guidance, the picture should be taken in natural light with the subject around 50cm away from the plain background (to prevent shadows) and the camera around 150cm away from the subject.
The home office have a video to take you through the process here.
Once you have uploaded your photo to the online form you will be told whether it looks acceptable, or if you should submit a replacement.
What happens after you have applied?
After you have made your application, you will receive updates from the Passport Office to both your mobile by text and to your email.
The first time you hear from them will be to confirm that they have received your old passport.
They will then get in touch if there are any issues with your application or if they need any further information.
The next message will be to let you know that your application has been approved, adding that they will let you know when your passport is ready to dispatch.
A few days later you will get confirmation that your new passport has been printed and is to be “transferred to our delivery supplier”.
You will then recieve a tracking number from the delivery supplier to let you know when it is expected to arrive.
Full tracking of your new passport is included in the application fee.