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My colleague was wondering if anyone has used the

https://www.gov.uk/get-a-passport-urgently/online-premium-service

UK's "instant" "online premium" passport service.

You apply using that page and (apparently eventually) get it on the spot at an appointment.

Right there it says "two days minimum" until you get the appointment.

1) Has anyone used this recently, if so how many days was the wait?

2) Is there any difference between the 6 or so offices; any are quicker than the others?


HUGE TRAVELLER TIP:

Fascinating point with this "online premium" service:

Say it's Monday and you book one of these appointments for say Wednesday.

It turns out that your current passport is actually CANCELLED on that day, Wednesday - it is not valid on Wednesday!!!!

They are very adamant about this.

You get warned by phone, email and on the ww:

enter image description here

So, say you're in Germany and you get the appointment for Wednesday, you can't travel on Wednesday! Your passport is cancelled! You have to travel on Tuesday!!!

Fascinating!


ENORMOUS TRAVELLER TIP

YOU GET ONLY THREE TRIES for your card payment

As usual, Mastercard is sloppier than Visa, and debit cards are sloppier again. If you are applying from overseas and you (as you would) have an overseas card, take extreme care.

You definitely want to (A) pre-phone all your cards providers and tell them an odd charge is coming through and (B) ensure you have the "verified by visa" or "3D mastersecure" (whatever it's called) password on hand - nobody remembers those.

  • "How is your passport {effectively ?] cancelled on Wednesday if you have it in your possession" Apparently your passport's just a database entry, they "turn it off" that day. "Even if it's flagged in the UKBF computer as expired ..." unfortunately that's like saying "even if" you have a zero balance in your bank account .. you're broke. ! "an expired British passport is valid for entry to the UK." is it valid for travel as it says above? Can you leave say the US, Germany with that state? Have you tried using an expired passport for entry, even if you don't mind the hassle it's ..... – Fattie Oct 4 '18 at 0:09
  • .. an amazing tip (good thing we called the helpline!) It's incredible they don't mention that on the site. – Fattie Oct 4 '18 at 0:09
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+250

If you click on the "Apply" link and work your way through the umpteen questions to confirm eligibility (which only takes a minute or two), you'll eventually get through to the booking calendar page -- unfortunately linking this page directly from an external site doesn't work, but here's the status as of 2 October 2018:

Passport booking calendar

As you can see, there are appointments available at every office on every day from the start of the 2-day booking horizon, with the exception of Newport and Glasgow on Saturday. I clicked through to the individual office pages for Thursday and found that, even just two days in advance, there are at least five different time slots available at each office.

Incidentally: in my experience with this service, the most difficult part of the whole process was producing an acceptable digital photo for upload. The online premium service requires a photo of the applicant's entire upper body, which they then crop down to a standard passport face size. Their automated photo checker is very fussy about things like uneven background tone, bright and uniform lighting, shadows, focus, and resolution. If I had to do it again I'd probably use a professional photographer for the photo.

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    In the U.K. companies like Timpsons will do passport photos. You can often find them in Sainsbury’s supermarkets. – Tim Oct 2 '18 at 10:27
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    I wanted to renew my UK passport but found it impossible to take good enough photos at home - it needs a proper studio. I had some recent prints from Timpsons but no digital copies. So I used the passport Check and Send service from a post office. It is a bit more expensive than the online application, but at the back end of the holiday season I got the new passport in about a week. – Weather Vane Oct 2 '18 at 10:32
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    @Cloud I fixed up the best lighting I could, found the best background I could, but as I wrote: not good enough. Mostly, too many shadows in the wrong places, and the background not even enough. You aren't allowed to retouch the pictures they must be "as taken". – Weather Vane Oct 2 '18 at 11:04
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    @Cloud Re "what wrong with you guys", I think my answer already indicated the chief difficulties. More detail would probably be off-topic for this question, but feel free to ask a new question and I'll be glad to elaborate. (I'm fairly sure that a question specifically about photos for UK passport applications would count as on-topic for this site.) If, as it appears, you too have experience with producing photos that pass the requirements for the HMPO's online premium service, you could also answer your own question and help others with your expertise. – Pont Oct 2 '18 at 11:21
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    @Fattie perhaps you have a large area of plain wall to use as a background in a well lit place. In (or outside) my house there is only one place this can be done. Happy for you. – Weather Vane Oct 17 '18 at 18:39

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