The DeliveryDemon has been looking at what’s involved in renewing a UK passport. Even getting the forms is a bureacratic nightmare.
- Option 1 is the ‘online’ application. What happens? You enter your details online, the passport service prints them off and posts them to you second class, with an SLA of a week, although the claim is that forms are posted within 24 hours. You then sign the documents and post them back with additional paperwork, and the subsequent process is likely to take in excess of 4 weeks.
- Option 2 is to collect a form from a post office offering the Check and Send service – not all post offices offer this, and it costs £8.17 on top of the passport price. This option is likely to take in excess of 6 weeks.
- Option 3 is to request an application form online. That can take 5 working days to get to you, and you still have to get on to the month-plus paperwork trail.
- Option 4 is to phone and ask for a form. Again it can take 5 days to get to you before you get into the application process.
If there’s less than 2 months before you need your passport, there’s a ‘faster’ service. You first have to get an appointment, then travel to one of only 6 regional offices – particularly bad news for anyone living in Inverness given the distribution. It can take 2 weeks just to get an appointment. And even though you may have to travel half way across the country, you must not turn up more then 10 minutes before the appointment time, in case queues makes it appear that the service can’t handle the demand.
Once you get the apppointment, you can choose between the Fast Track, 1 week, service or the Premium, 1 day, service. With the Fast Track service, you must be at home to sign for the passport a week later. With the Premium service, you have 4 hours to wait once your forms have been checked and the cashier has given you a receipt – or overnight if you haven’t been able to get a morning appointment in all but 1 of the regional centres.
- Online application – £77.50, 5 weeks
- Check and Send – £85.67, 6 weeks and 2 trips to the post office
- Normal post – £77.50, a week to get the forms, processing time unspecified and high risk of loss.
- Fast Track – £112, a trip to a Check and Send post office or a week to get the forms by any other means, 2 weeks to get an appointment, a day to travel to the appointment, a week to wait, and a day at home waiting for the passport to be delivered.
- Premium – £129, a trip to a Check and Send post office or a week to get the forms by any other means, 2 weeks to get an appointment, a day to travel to the appointment and potentially another day to pick up the passport if you can’t get an early enough appointment for same day collection.
The passport service are investing in sexy technology like phone apps and online tracking of progress. Just how much effort would it take to provide a basic online PDF application form which would deliver a full week’s benefit for most applicants? Priorities?