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 The British passport still has clout!


March 2018

British passport

Nearly three quarters of the UK population hold passports.

Indeed, a British passport is almost considered an essential now as your passport can be used for proof of citizenship and an official identification in many areas when you need to prove who you are.

Whether after Brexit we change to the historic blue passport or retain the red cover, holding a British passport is still something to value.

The idea of a passport in Britain is thought to have originated from an Act of Parliament in 1414, when documents for safe conduct were issued by the King. In 1540 the issue of travelling papers was taken over by the Privy Council and from 1794 passports were taken under the control of the Office of the Secretary of State.

Amazingly there are records of every British passport granted since this time, a wonderful resource on our historic population. But in the past, ownership of passports was of course limited, and they were not necessarily required for travel until the early part of the 20th century.

All passports issued since 2006 have been biometric – meaning an electronic or ePassport. They feature an electronic chip which holds not only your details but also your facial biometrics. These have been taken from the photograph you supply and include measurements such as the distance between the eyes, nose, mouth and ears. This is why it is important these days to provide a precise passport picture that is full face without smiles or screwed up cheeks.

It takes around three weeks to get a renewed or replacement passport and will cost £72.50p, or £82.50; including the Post Office check system. However, if you are in a panic, you can get a new passport in just a few hours or within a week through the most costly Passport Offices Premium Service or Fast Track Service.

The power of the British passport

It is easy to complain about the cost of Passports, but they do open up the world for today’s travellers. The UK is among the top 4 in the world based on the power of the passport.

Henley and Partners are global leaders in citizenship planning and have just put together a ranking of all the passports in the world according to their value. It is based on the number of countries that can be visited visa free by the passport holders, and gives an interesting insight into the power of each passport.

Japan and Singapore have knocked Germany off the top spot of the Index, with citizens of both Asian nations now enjoying visa-free access to a record 180 destinations. The German passport has topped the list for the past five years but has now dropped down to the second most powerful globally, with access to 179 destinations worldwide.

The UK has dropped down one rank to 4th place overall, but the country still provides its citizens with visa-free access to 177 destinations. Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan sit at the bottom of the Henley Passport Index, each still only able to access 30 or fewer destinations visa-free.

A few key rankings are below:
1:  Singapore and Japan, both scoring 180.
2 : Germany at 179.
3 : Italy, Spain, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and South Korea at 178
4 : the UK, equal with Austria, Portugal, Norway, Luxembourg and Holland at 177.
5:  America equal with Switzerland and Canada at 176
6 : Australia equal with Greece and Belgium at 174

There are some interesting variations, Hong Kong only scores 161 coming in at 16th, while tiny St Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean come in not that far behind at 26th with a score of 141. Russia scores a lowly 114 to come in at 45th .

To see the entire list, visit

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