More than 1 million people left it until the 11th hour to apply for a passport last summer and risked missing out on summer holidays.
This month the message is clear - check your passport and apply early. And to remind people the Identity and Passport Service has launched Passport Pete, a cartoon about a man who didn’t check his passport in time and missed out on a holiday.
Figures show that parents applying for passports for their children and young people aged 16 to 20 were the two biggest groups to submit a last minute passport application.
Despite extra staff being employed by the Identity and Passport Service during summer months, there are limited numbers of appointments at passport offices for a fast track service and customers cannot always rely on a last minute call to the passport service to beat the rush.
To avoid a disappointing summer, the passport service is urging customers to apply before April to ensure they have their passport in time. They could receive their passport quicker than the advised three week period and save up to £55.50 by avoiding having to pay for premium service for a standard passport.
Sarah Rapson, Chief Executive of the Identity and Passport Service, said: ‘The Identity and Passport Service works hard each year to process more than 5.5 million applications to ensure customers can travel abroad for business or on holiday.
‘But to ensure passports remain one of the most trusted and secure documents in the world, each application takes time to process.
‘All too often people plan every other part of their holiday and forget one of the most important things - their passport. They are then forced to apply last minute, running the risk of missing out on the holiday altogether.
‘Applying early and outside the busy summer months will help ensure customers receive their passport in good time and could even save them money.’
Raquel Brooks was one such customer who booked a fast track appointment with IPS earlier this month after realising her son’s passport had expired just days before they were due to go on holiday to Portugal.
Ms Brooks said: ‘The Identity and Passport Service gave a very good and quick service and I would definitely recommend applying at this time of year.
‘I would also encourage people to check their passports are valid before booking, especially if they have children, as we could have missed out.’
From September 2012 it became even cheaper to apply for a passport with a standard adult passport dropping in price by £5 to £72.50. All other application types also reduced in price.