Passports don’t last forever. They all come with an expiration date you can clearly see on the photo page of your passport booklet. When that day does come, what do you do with your old passports?
The Identity and Passport Service estimate that around 10,000 passports are simply thrown in the bin every year. We don’t recommend that, though, because a passport doesn’t need to be valid to be a gold mine for fraudsters and identity thieves.
Therefore, dealing with your old passport requires a controlled process that enables it to be securely disposed of. Read on as we outline the process UK citizens have to go through to deal with their old passport.
How to dispose of old passports in the UK
When wondering what to do with your old passport, once it is no longer valid, the first thing you need to ask yourself is whether or not you are planning to renew it. This is an important question to answer, as expired passports are integral to the process of renewing your UK passport. You will need to take different measures for each scenario, which we have laid out below.
Old UK passport: I wish to renew it
For the renewal process, you need to keep your expired passport handy. Along with a valid form, your birth certificate and a new UK passport photo, the HM Passport Office requires applicants to send their old travel document, too.
There are a number of branches of the Passport Office all over the UK. You will be informed when you apply which one you’ll need to mail your passport, along with your supporting documents, too.
While sending a passport by post, applicants need to make sure it is secure, so that it is not lost in transit. The best way to do this is by sending it in a secure box, envelope, or Jiffy bag, and making sure it is thoroughly sealed with packing tape.
Sending the passport through special delivery will also add extra security. We recommend that you include some form of note carrying an application number, or some other evidence linking the expired passport to your passport application.
You don’t need to include a stamp, as this is a Freepost address. Don’t forget to include any other relevant materials.
If you are planning on renewing your passport using a paper application, this will include the application form itself as well as your supporting documents, and your new passport photo.
If you are applying with a digital application, you will still need to send supporting documents by post.
If you fail to send your expired passport, your application is likely to be rejected, so make sure you do so in good time.
Old UK passport: I don’t wish to renew it
It might be that once your current passport expires, or you’ve run out of passport pages, you will not wish to renew it. In this case, one thing you can do with your expired passports is simply mail them to the HM Passport Office, at this address:
Customer Service Manager
HM Passport Office
PO Box 767
If you don’t want to renew your passport, you can simply request that they dispose of your expired one. Passports are designed to be difficult to damage, so it is likely that they will be incinerated.
You will need to post your old passport to the address of the passport services listed above, and they will be able to deal with your expired passport securely.
When you post it, take the same precautions as you would when you normally post a passport. It would also be a good idea to cut off the top right-hand corner of your old passport book to make sure it definitely can’t be exploited.
If you would rather keep one with you as a souvenir, you should make sure to keep it in a safe place, as this will greatly diminish the risk of your passport, and the personal information it contains, falling into the wrong hands.
In many ways, it might be a good idea to keep your passport safe, even if you’re not planning on renewing it. It may be that, after a few years, you change your mind and decide that you would like to renew it, in which case you will still have to hand in your old passport during the renewal process.
In addition, in some circumstances, expired passports can be used to prove your nationality, and therefore, the rights you are entitled to. For example, the government guidelines say that an expired passport can be used, in some circumstances, to prove someone has the right to work in the UK, provided they are a citizen of the UK, Ireland, or one of a list of selected Commonwealth nations.
If I’ve found a lost passport?
Expired passports might not be the only ones you need to deal with. It may be that one day, you happen across a passport that doesn’t belong to you, whose owner has lost it.
It is likely that whoever owns it has already applied to renew it, so there is no need to try to reunite it with its owner. Instead, your best course of action would be to mail it directly to the U.K. Passport Office.
You need to post it to the address listed above.
As before, make sure to put the lost passport in a secure box, envelope or Jiffy bag, and ensure that it is properly secured so the passport does not fall out in transit. When returning lost passports to the passport agency, they recommend that you include a note with the package explaining the situation.
Once the package is all prepared, you can mail it to the Passport Office and they will do the rest!
Looking to get your passport application ready? Learn how to do it the right way by checking out our other articles:
- Visa in Expired Passport: How to Use It
- Passport Expiry Date – How Late Is Too Late to Renew?
- British Passport Processing Time: A Guide to Getting Ahead of the Game
- UK Passport Renewal: Australia Guide
- How to Renew Your UK Passport in Canada?
- Using The Post Office For Passport Application and Renewal
- Best Free Passport Photo App – Android Shortlist for 2023
Can I throw my British passport away?
It can be tempting to just throw your passport into the bin when it runs out. However, we recommend that you avoid doing this, both because it exposes you to fraud and because it means you will not be able to use it to renew your passport.
It may be possible to apply for a new passport after you have thrown the old one away, but you would have to apply as if you were renewing a lost or stolen passport.
This process will require you to provide a countersignatory to vouch for your application, thus testifying that you are who you say you are. This has to be done in advance of sending your application, which will delay the process of getting your passport renewed.
It’s far better to keep your expired passport so that you can use it in your next passport application.
Should you keep your old UK passports?
Keeping your passport is a good idea, especially if you are planning on renewing your passport.
It may be tempting to keep your old passport indefinitely as a souvenir of all the trips that you have taken in the past, there may be a lot of memories tied up in the different stamps in your expired passport. However, if you fail to produce your old passport to the passport authorities when you come to apply for your new one, your application may be denied, which will only delay the process of getting a valid passport.
It is, therefore, a good idea to keep your passport in a secure place, but to be prepared to send it in with your application. There’s always the chance to make new memories with your new passport!
Get a photo for your next passport using Passport Photo Online
In most cases, disposing of your old passport is part and parcel of the process of renewing your expired passport.
If you require a new passport, you need to get a new passport photo. If this applies to you, then you need to consider using Passport Photo Online.
Our digital, AI-supported service will allow you to take or upload any photo of yourself using our website or app. 3 seconds after you click the button, it will transform the image into the perfect passport photo.
It will also make sure that this photo is compliant with all the official regulations, from those relating to size to those concerning the background. Passport Photo Online can offer you 5 main benefits:
- You can always be certain you will get the picture that you want. With Passport Photo Online, you can take all the photos you want, free of charge, to make sure that you look your absolute best.
- Utilising the service is very simple. The Passport Photo Online app is very intuitive and easy to use. This can be very helpful if you are planning on using Passport Photo Online to take a newborn passport photograph. and therefore must keep your baby focused and take the new photo simultaneously.
- Passport Photo Online is flexible. The internet-based service works wherever you happen to be, it could be in your house, at work or even in a park, as long as you have access to the internet, you have Passport Photo Online.
- We can save you lots of money. If you use Passport Photo Online to take your new photo for your passport, you can save up to 54% on the cost!
- We guarantee that your photo will be accepted. Passport Photo Online’s AI software scans every digital photo you upload to make sure that they are compliant with all the official criteria for UK passport photos. In addition, every photo is checked out again by our human inspectors, who add a little extra security and peace of mind.
In the unlikely event that a photo that we edited causes your application to be rejected, we pledge to refund you 200% of what you paid for the photo. That’s right, 200%. Now that’s a good deal.
To sum up the issues of old/expired British passports, let us answer the most frequently asked questions.
What do you do with old expired passports?
There are a number of things you could potentially do with old or expired passports. Our recommendation is that you keep your expired passport, as it can still be extremely useful even if it is no longer usable. Also, you need to provide an expired passport during the renewal process.
Can you throw away your old passport?
No, you should avoid simply throwing away your old passport, as it can open you up to the risk of fraud and will prevent you from using it to renew your passport later on. We recommend that you keep your old passport so you will be able to add it to your passport renewal application.
Can you keep old passports?
It is a good idea to hold onto your old passports and keep them safe. This will prevent them from getting exploited by identity thieves and will also give you the ability to use them in future passport renewal applications.
What should I do with an old passport after renewal?
Your old passport is one of the supporting documents needed to carry out your passport renewal. You will therefore need to send it back to the Passport Office as part of the renewal process.When your old passport is returned to you, you can keep it as a momento (keep it somewhere safe, though, to prevent identity theft) or else send it back to the Passport Office so it can be disposed of.
How do I send my old passport back?
When you send your passport back to the Passport Office, you’re going to want to use some form of signed delivery option for extra security. When you actually come to pack it, you need to put it in a secured box, sealed envelope, or something like a Jiffy bag to keep it safe both from getting lost in transit and from potential identity thieves.
Where do I send my old UK passport?
When you’re renewing your passport, you will need to send your old one to one of the Passport Office’s branches across the UK. You will be informed in advance which one you need to send it to.
Which address do I use to send my old passport to HM Passport Office?
If you are renewing a passport, you will be told when you submit your application which branch of the Passport Office you’ll need to post it to.
If you want your passport to be disposed of, you will need to send it to this address: Customer Service Manager, HM Passport Office, PO BOX 767, Southport, PR8 9PW.
Should I destroy my old UK passports?
You should not destroy your UK. passport yourself. If you have decided that you don’t need another passport once the previous one has expired, then the best thing to do is return it to the Passport Office.
My old British passport has been lost in the post—what do I do?
If you discover that your old passport has been lost in transit, the first thing you need to do is report it to the Passport Office. Within 24 hours, they will have cancelled the passport and reported its loss to the National Crime Agency, who will add your passport to Interpol’s database of lost or stolen travel documents. This will prevent anyone from using your old passport to steal your identity.
Where do I send my old passport when renewing online?
The address will be provided once the online application has been submitted. There is not a single mailing address as numerous Passport Office branches accept UK. passport renewals throughout the United Kingdom.
I sent my old passport to the wrong address—what now?
Everything should be fine. You can email the Passport Office to confirm, but your passport renewals will still be processed if you mailed them to a Passport Office location (even if it’s the wrong one).
Should I send my passport recorded delivery?
Yes, the Passport Office recommends recorded delivery for mailing old passports and renewals. Recorded delivery requires a signature upon delivery, so you will be informed when the Passport Office has received your passport, making tracking easier.
Can I send my old UK passport with a first-class stamp?
Yes, you can. However, sending your passport with Royal Mail special delivery is trackable, whereas a first-class stamp is not.
How to destroy old passports?
To safely destroy an old UK passport, mail it to the following address: Customer Service Manager, HM Passport Office, PO BOX 767, Southport, PR8 9PW.
Can you send two old UK passports in the same envelope?
Yes, you can. Especially if the online application provided the same Passport Office mailing address for both passport renewals (e.g., when applying as a family).
Can I send three old passports in one envelope?
Yes, you can. If all three individuals (when renewing as a family) received mailing instructions to the same Passport Office location, it’s perfectly fine to send all three passports in the same envelope.
Will my old passport be returned?
Yes, it will. Your old passport will be returned when you receive your new UK passport.
As you can see, dealing with your expired passport is not simply a matter of throwing it in the bin.
The best thing to do is to send your old passport to the passport agency, which can deal with it safely. In the process, you can apply for a new passport, with a new passport photo.
Passport Photo Online’s flexibility can be a great help here. It doesn’t matter when your passport expires, Passport Photo Online will be there to help with your next one!
Having graduated with a History degree from the University of Birmingham, Sam has proven writing experience in biometric photography articles, marketing and events. Born in the UK, he has travelled extensively both nationally and internationally. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, cycling and skateboarding.