• Brits spend an estimated £169 million on fast-track and premium passport services annually
  • Overall, £64.2 million is unnecessarily wasted each year on last minute renewals
  • Over one million people (2.3%) have been refused travel as a result of passport issues

British travellers collectively waste an estimated £64.2 million each year as a result of failing to renew passports in good time ahead of travelling, reveals new research from travel insurance specialist Columbus Direct1.

Overall, one in nine people (equivalent to 5.7 million2) has experienced issues as a result of not renewing their passport in sufficient time over the last three years.  This includes 2.2 million people (4.3%) who have had to pay extra for a seven-day passport renewal service and 1.4 million (2.7%) who forked out more for a premium, same day processing service. A further 1.2 million (2.3%) adults have paid extra for the seven-day fast track renewal service for their children. Nearly a quarter (23%) of those aged 18-34 have had an issue with needing to renew their passport urgently compared to just 4% of those aged over 55.


Travellers who opt for quicker passport renewal services are paying at least 42.1% more than they normally have to. The standard cost for renewing an adult 32-page passport is £72 (3 weeks), compared to £103 for a 7-day fast track service (a premium of 42.1%) and £128 for a one-day service (a premium of 76.6%). For child passport, the cost of a 7-day fast track service (£87) almost doubles its normal charge (£46), but 1-day premium service is not available for children. Brits collectively spend an estimated £169 million on fast-track and premium passport services every year, which is £64.2 million more than what they would pay had they used a standard passport renewal service.


The research also reveals that 1.2 million (2.3%) have been refused travel out of the UK or into their destination as a result of passport issues, such as out-dated documentation or insufficient time left on the passport before expiry, in the last three years.

Rob Thomas, Head of Brand at Columbus Direct said: “Going on holiday is expensive enough without the added cost of paying for a premium passport service. Before booking a trip, travellers should check their passport expiry date as well as the specific country’s passport and visa requirements to make sure that they can travel abroad. The advice from the passport office is clear: do not book a trip abroad until you have a valid passport.

“Holidaymakers should also take out travel insurance as soon as they have booked a trip to cover themselves in case they need to cancel their holiday due to unforeseen circumstances such as illness or jury service. Not being able to travel due to passport issues will not be a valid reason for claiming a refund, although some insurance policies do provide travellers cover if their passports get stolen shortly before their departure date. It’s important that travellers give themselves enough time to prepare all the required travel documents if they don’t want to endure unnecessary stress at the last minute.” 

Different destinations have varying requirements around passports and visas. For example, British travellers flying to the US need to have an ePassport4, which is equipped with an electronic chip compliant with the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP). Those without an ePassport should contact the Passport Office for a replacement to allow them to use the VWP, otherwise they will need to apply for a visa to enter the US on their current passport.

Other countries with specific requirements include:

  • New Zealand – passports should be valid for a minimum period of one month from the date of exit from New Zealand
  • South Africa – passports should be valid for a minimum period of 30 days from the date of exit from South Africa. Passports should also have at least two blank pages when presented at immigration to enter or leave South Africa
  • Those travelling to destinations outside the EU to countries including Turkey, Thailand and Brazil (among others) need to have a minimum period of six months validity left on their passport from the date of entry to the country

Those travelling from the UK to the EU do need to have a valid passport but it only needs to be effective for the length of their stay.


1 Research conducted by Opinium amongst a representative sample of 2,000 adults completed between 14-17 October

2 Calculations based on an adult population figure of 51,339,000

3 Cost of passports taken from https://www.gov.uk/get-a-passport-urgently

4 https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/usa/entry-requirements  

Columbus Direct

Is a leading travel insurance specialist which was established in 1988 selling both online via Columbus Direct and offline via call centre channels. We have a history of innovation in the industry, including being the first company to sell travel insurance direct to the consumer in the UK and also the first to fully sell a policy online.

Customer satisfaction and value for money are the driving forces behind Columbus Direct and we pride ourselves on providing a quick, efficient and hassle-free service.

We have covered over 15 million holidaymakers since 1988 and our latest customer surveys show that over 95% of customers would recommend us to their friends and family.

Columbus has won multiple awards including the Your Money awards Best Direct Travel Insurance Provider, ITIJ Travel Insurance Intermediary of the year, 13 Which? Best Buy awards, The Best Customer Focus Award from the Best Business awards, Best Travel Insurance provider from Your Money and also the Best Travel Insurance Provider award from the Personal Finance Awards. 

Columbus Direct is a specialist travel insurance intermediary which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Columbus Direct is a Collinson Group company.  Collinson Group is a global leader in influencing customer behaviour to drive revenue and value for its clients. It offers a unique blend of industry and sector specialists who together provide market-leading experience in delivering products and services across four core capabilities: Loyalty, Lifestyle Benefits, Insurance, and Assistance. Collinson Group has 25 years’ experience, with 25 global locations, servicing over 800 clients in 170 countries, employing 2,000 staff, and managing over 20 million end customers.

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