It Took Someone 1,408 Days to Get a Passport in the UK [New Research]

UK passport data for 2023 from HMPO
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In early January 2024, we contacted His Majesty’s Passport Office (HMPO) with nine questions about passports.

The response took 55 days.

But—

It was worth the wait.

From the most common reasons for photo rejections to the fastest and slowest passport processing times, we have some exciting insights to share.

Let’s dive in:

Top Five Reasons Your Passport Photo Might Get Rejected

As you know, you can skip the queue at the post office and get a UK passport online. It’s now the go-to option for Brits, with 6.1M+ applications in 2023.

Now—

Along with paperwork and fees, you’ll also need to submit a digital passport photo.

Curious about where people were tripping up with their images, we asked HMPO, and they revealed the five most common rejection reasons:

  1. The file size is too big or too small.
  2. The file type isn’t compatible.
  3. The applicant’s face is too close to the camera.
  4. The image resolution is too low.
  5. Facial features aren’t clear enough.

The takeaway?

While applying online is convenient, ensuring your photo meets the requirements is key. It’ll save you time and hassle in the long run.

How Many UK Passports Were Lost or Stolen in 2023

If you’ve ever lost your passport or had it stolen, you know the trouble it brings.

Sadly, it’s a relatively common issue. 

According to HMPO, 430,732 passports were reported lost or stolen in 2023*.

*These figures have been taken from a live operational database. As such, numbers may change as information on that database is updated.

What Percentage of Brits Have Passports

Some people hold ‘second’ passports, so HMPO couldn’t provide exact figures.

But—

They did share there were 52,151,228 valid UK passports in circulation as of 31 December 2023*. To give you some context, the estimated population of the UK in 2023 was around 67,736,802 at mid-year.

*These figures have been taken from a live operational database. As such, numbers may change as information on that database is updated.

How Far in Advance People Renew Passports

Passport delays grabbed headlines in 2023, sparking widespread discussion. 

So, we turned to HMPO for insights. 

They said that last year, 67% of passport renewal applicants chose to renew ahead of time, with most doing so within six months of their travel document’s expiration.

Fastest and Slowest Passport Processing Times in 2023

As of this writing, the average time it takes to process a UK passport is about three weeks.

But—

It can stretch much longer (or zip by faster.)

According to HMPO, a passport is only issued once all necessary checks are completed. Plus, any concerns regarding potential fraud can lead to longer processing times. 

With this, the record for the quickest passport turnaround was a single day in 2023, while the longest wait was 1,408 days*.

That’s nearly four years of waiting.

*These figures have been taken from a live operational database. As such, numbers may change as information on that database is updated.

Typical Age of First-Time Passport Applicants

When did you get your first passport? 

As you’re jogging your memory, HMPO shared that in 2023, the average age for adults applying for their first passport in the UK was 35 years old.

For children, the starting line comes earlier, with the average age for their first passport being just four years old. 

How Many People Applied for Passports in 2023

So far, so good.

Let’s now look at the number of passport applications* by route:

MonthCounterPaperPost OfficePost Office Online TabletUK OnlineUK PostalGrand Total
January43,1903029,11370,9631,065,13419,9771,228,407
February40,938727,10849,720659,32119,069796,163
March44,0733728,48156,729855,71119,7461,004,777
April18,9082115,75334,739548,12311,315628,859
May37,2961616,46733,492487,68812,234587,193
June49,1692316,39835,683446,14513,108560,526
July53,5243613,85233,182419,62412,243532,461
August46,8234112,76529,307365,46510,522464,923
September34,3603712,11827,590355,72010,344440,169
October25,3053412,19828,477347,18910,413423,616
November18,5714011,05925,387328,8519,742393,650
December17,522507,60216,578293,0466,860341,658
Grand Total429,679372202,914441,8476,172,017155,5737,402,402

*These figures have been taken from a live operational database. As such, numbers may change as information on that database is updated.

Below are a few noteworthy observations:

  • The total of UK passport applications across all routes in 2023 was 7,402,402.
  • The UK Online route dominates with a significant majority of the applications, totalling 6,172,017 for the year. 
  • The Paper route is the least used, with only 372 applications.
  • The highest number of passport applications occurred in January, with a total of 1,228,407 applications across all routes.
  • The lowest number of applications was in December, with 341,658 applications.

Number of Passports Issued: Monthly and Age Breakdown

Lastly, we asked HMPO about the number of child and adult passports issued* in 2023.

See the results below:

MonthAdult Passports IssuedChild Passports IssuedTotal Passports Issued
January576,077245,178821,255
February639,049326,896965,945
March624,646355,747980,393
April374,069225,360599,429
May412,998245,385658,383
June439,311228,789668,100
July344,039159,024503,063
August325,250148,522473,772
September310,936134,646445,582
October326,767125,995452,762
November281,062113,229394,291
December221,90985,411307,320
Grand Total4,876,1132,394,1827,270,295

*These figures have been taken from a live operational database. As such, numbers may change as information on that database is updated.

Examining the data reveals:

  • In 2023, 7,270,295 passports were issued, comprising 4,876,113 adult passports and 2,394,182 child passports.
  • The highest number of passports was issued in March, with 980,393 total passports, split between 624,646 adult and 355,747 child passports.
  • The lowest issuance occurred in December, with 307,320 total passports. Of these, 221,909 were adult, and 85,411 were child passports.

With this, it’s time to wrap.

Stacking It All Up

There you have it.

A comprehensive look at the UK passport data.

Now—

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