Passport applications can be a tedious process, from manually filling out lengthy forms to finding your nearest photobooth to take that strict picture. All this before you’ve even had a chance to look up travel advice for your destination.
But the Home Office has updated the rulebook so the application is finally a lot smoother.
UK travellers can now take their own passport photo on their smartphone and send it in online.
Before this new rule, UK passport applications required two photo prints to be posted in.
They had to be taken by a photobooth machine or professional at a retail outlet.
Despite being able to send it in yourself, you’ll still have to get someone else to take it for you.
So it can’t be a selfie and you still can’t smile but once you’ve snapped your picture, the rest is taken care of.
The Home Office will crosscheck the photos against its database using facial recognition.
But the move has raised concerns with photography outlets – fearing they’ll be driven out of business.
The Imaging Alliance represents the industry and said the new rule could come at the cost of some 6,000 photobooths throughout the UK.
It has also prompted questions over whether this will become a security threat, as the whole passport application process can now be submitted online.
But the Home Office said: “We have started to introduce passports that will no longer include the holder’s signature in digital format.
“This is part of developing HM Passport Office’s online application service, by removing the need for customers to send signed paper forms and printed photographs in support of their application.”
Last year it was revealed Brits waste £64 million annually on last minute passport renewals, often because they have forgotten to do in good time before they travel.
Research from travel insurance specialist Columbus Direct found one in nine people, which is the equivalent to 5.7 million people, have experienced issues over the last three years as a result of not leaving enough time to renew their passport.
Of the 5.7 million, 4.3 per cent (2.2 million) have paid extra for a seven-day passport renewal service.