News story

Millionth new UK passport issued free to wartime veteran

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The millionth new UK passport has been issued free to World War Two veteran Janet Varrall as a part of the free passports scheme for the wartime generation.

Mrs Varrall is the one millionth person to receive a new ‘Scenic Britain’ passport since they were first issued last October. The new passport features 50 more security enhancements than the previous version.

She is also one of more than 700,000 World War Two generation veterans to have been given a free passport since the scheme began in 2004.

Sarah Rapson, Chief Executive of the Identity and Passport Service, said: ‘I am delighted that a World War Two veteran like Mrs Varrall has received the millionth new UK passport for free.

‘Mrs Varrall and her generation deserve to get their passports for free in recognition for the sacrifices they made during the war. It is right that those who gave up so much to guarantee our security should be given the privilege of free passports.’

Janet Varrall, 82, from Deal in Kent measured out rations as a teenager during the war and also looked after the Women’s Land Army as they ploughed the fields, dug up potatoes and harvested the crops.

Mrs Varrall said: ‘I am pleased the government has thought to recognise the hard work and sacrifices my generation made during the war in this way.’

In recognition of the sacrifices made by World War II veterans and civilians, every British Citizen born on or before 2 September 1929 does not have to pay for a UK passport. A total of 700,000 free passports have now been given to World War Two generation veterans since the scheme was introduced.

The ‘Scenic Britain’ passport Mrs Varrall received was first issued last October. It features iconic images from across the nation including the White Cliffs of Dover, the Gower Peninsula, Ben Nevis and the Giant’s Causeway.

The new images, recreated through special high security printing techniques, are just one of more than 50 new security features contained in the passport, and designed to give UK citizens added protection from identity theft and fraud and ensure speedier travel across borders.

Sarah Rapson added: ‘Through its combination of physical and electronic security features, the UK passport remains one of the most secure and trusted documents in the world, meeting rigorous international standards.
‘The new design is part of our strategy to stay ahead of criminals who look to fraudulently alter or copy passports.’

Notes to editors

1. In May 2004, it was announced that citizens whose birthdays fall on or before 2 September 1929 would be eligible for free ten-year passports. These are renewable without charge from the Identity and Passport Service.

2. The Identity and Passport Service estimated that 4.5 million people were eligible for the scheme when it was introduced.

3. The redesigned UK passport was launched in October 2010. It features strengthened security features and iconic images from across the nation.

4. The new 10 year passport contains well-known UK scenes, including the White Cliffs of Dover, the Gower Peninsula, Ben Nevis and the Giant’s Causeway.

5. The personal details page of the passport has been moved to the front of the new ‘Scenic Britain’ book, in common with many European countries and New Zealand, USA, Australia, Canada, Russia, Japan, Pakistan, Republic of Korea (south) and Liberia.

6. The electronic passport or ePassport was launched in 2006 and featured a microchip and facial biometrics. There are now around 25 million ePassports in use. During the last financial year (09/10) the Identity and Passport Service issued 5.35 million passports.

7. The standard passport currently costs £77.50. This cost is the same for a first adult passport and a renewal.

8. IPS chief executive Sarah Rapson met Mrs Varrall at the Imperial War Museum on Thursday 24 February to hand over the free passport. For pictures visit the Home Office Flickr page.

9. For more information about applying for a passport visit the Identity and Passport Service website.