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The Passport Check & Send Service
Identity and Passport Service
Member Name: collingwood21
Identity and Passport Service
Date: 28/01/09, updated on 31/07/09 (8353 review reads)
Advantages: Faster than standard postal passport applications, Fee is not too expensive
Disadvantages: Post Office service not very good
**What is Check & Send?**
Check & Send is a relatively new option offered by the Post Office in conjunction with the Identity and Passport Service, and offers a service for new and renewable applications that falls between the standard postal application (cost of your passport plus postage) and the urgent appointment-only routes (costing at least £97 for an adult passport and fees) in terms of speed and cost. For a handling charge of £6.85 (on top of the £72 for a standard adult passport), selected Post Offices will double-check your application papers for you to make sure the form has been completed correctly and that you have included all necessary supporting paperwork, then forward the checked application on to the nearest passport office along with the correct passport fee. Using this service, you have a statistically lower chance of your application being rejected than if it wasn't checked, and you should receive your renewed passport within two weeks rather than the three week time frame if you were sending straight in yourself (NB: first time applicants are advised to leave six weeks for this service as they need to be invited for an interview under new rules introduced in June 2007). The Identity and Passport Service recommend that you use the Check & Send service for both new and renewing applications - I hoping this is because it makes things quicker and easier for everyone concerned rather than because they want to generate profits for the Post Office!
**My Experience of the Check & Send Service**
Both myself and Other Half needed to apply for renewed passports - he had a simple renewal of a current passport to do, while I had the potentially more complicated situation of needing to change my name on my passport. We had already collected blank forms from the Post Office (also available online from here: http://www.ips.gov.uk/passport/apply-online.asp) and spent a long afternoon carefully filling them out and gathering together old passports, new photos (the current guidelines on acceptable photos can be found here: http://www.ips.gov.uk/passport/apply-photos.asp) and my completed paperwork from the registrar confirming I was indeed getting married (forms and guidance on this are available here: http://www.ips.gov.uk/passport/apply-amending-marr ied.asp). On December 30th, we visited our nearest Post Office that offered Check & Send (list available at: http://www.ips.gov.uk/passport/apply-post-office-n earest.asp) and hoped everything would go smoothly.
Accessing the service was very easy - it was available at any counter in the Post Office - and we decided to let Other Half go first as his was the easier of the two applications. We handed over his envelope of paperwork and the assistant thoroughly checked it over, then reassembled it in a sealed package, charged the full amount for the passport (£72) plus the handling fee (£6.85) and handed over a receipt that would allow us to track the application's progress online. The whole process took about 5 minutes and was very straightforward. Then it was my turn. I handed over my paperwork and explained that my old passport was made out to Miss Maiden Name, while my current name was Dr Maiden Name and I wanted my new passport to be for Dr Married Name. You see what I mean about things being a bit more complex for me? This certainly threw the assistant. At first she asked to see my marriage certificate, which of course I hadn't got as I wasn't married - she then spent some time insisting that I couldn't have my passport made out in my married name until after my wedding. I politely explained that it was possible to allow people to travel on honeymoon under their new names, and pointed out the form that my registrar had signed. Still looking perplexed, she asked all the nearby assistants if I could do this, leaving me wishing I had brought a print-out of the relevant web page and not looking forward to my next question. Although passports don't show titles (although it is apparently possible to make a specific request for it to read "Dr"), passport forms collect this information; I therefore needed to know if my title change from Miss to Dr since my last passport was going to cause any problems. I had come prepared with paperwork to demonstrate that was entitled to be called Dr and asked if it was necessary to include it with my new application. Cue more problems, confusion and shouting of my personal details up and down the busy Post Office. The final answer was "no", but I didn't not feel terribly reassured. My application had taken 15 minutes to process and I left feeling anxious that it hadn't been handled properly rather than being reassured as I had hoped the service would do.
Nine days after we had sent off our applications I returned home from work intending to see if the online tracking system would work, and was surprised to find two new passports awaiting us in the post. I was even more surprised to find that mine was completely correct - I admit that I had been half expecting the passport office to contact me and ask for paperwork to prove that my title had indeed changed to Dr. Overall I thought this was a very quick and efficient service, although things clearly work better at the Passport Service end of it than at the Post Office end! Other half was also impressed and felt his £6.85 was well spent as it had given him reassurance and a quick result. Although I also got a quick result, the standard of service I got from the Post Office let this system down a bit for me; there needs to be greater training for staff on how to deal with non-standard passport applications, I reckon, as these are the ones where you need the help of a checking service most of all. I would also like for the staff who handle these forms to have a bit more discretion, as I felt quite embarrassed to have my details shouted about like I experienced. It was decent value for money and I would recommend it as a way to get your passport that bit quicker - but the service loses one star from me for the performance of the Post Office.
Summary: A quick and (relatively) easy way to apply for a UK passport
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