What Do You Do With Old Passports?

A man walks along the seafront, a red UK post box on a street corner.

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. Dealing with your old passport, therefore, requires a controlled process that enables it to be securely disposed of. Read on as we outline the process you have to go through to deal with your old passport, so you can renew your passport with confidence.

A man walks along the seafront, a red UK post box on a street corner.

How to dispose of old passports – UK

When wondering what to do with your old passport, 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:

If I wish to renew it?

If you want to renew your passport, you need to keep your expired passport handy. The renewal process requires that you send your expired passport, along with your birth certificate and a new UK passport photo directly to the UK Passport Office, by special delivery, to this address:

Freepost HM Passport Office

PO BOX 767

Southport

PR8 9PW

When you send a passport by post, you need to make sure that 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.

If I don’t wish to renew it?

It’s possible that, once your old passport has expired, you don’t wish to renew it. In that scenario, one thing you can do with your expired passports is simply send them back to the UK Passport Office. 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.

If you would rather keep one with you as a souvenir, you should make sure to keep it secure, for example in a safe, as this will greatly diminish the risk of your passport being stolen. 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 your old passport to hand to use in 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 to prove someone has the Right to Work in the UK, provided they are a citizen of the UK, Ireland or 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 UK 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!

Can I throw my passport away?

It can be tempting, when your passport runs out, to just throw it into the bin. 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 your passport 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 passports? – UK

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!

A woman takes a photo, a man adjusts his camera settings with a laptop.

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, web-based service will allow you to take or upload any photo of yourself using our website or app, then, 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:

  1. 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. It might be that you want 10 takes, 100 or even 1000, it doesn’t matter to us. You will only ever need to pay for the photo you chose for your application, so feel free to take your time and consider your photo carefully.
  2. 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. It only takes 15 minutes and 3 (three) steps to create the perfect photo for your new passport, steps which are clearly signposted, both on the website and on the app. It couldn’t be simpler! This leaves you more time to spend with the ones you love. 
  3. 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. As a result, taking your new passport photo is easy to fit around your busy day-to-day life, perfect for those moments when your passport expires earlier than you were expecting.
  4. 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!
  5. 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.

What to do with your old UK passport – summing up

As you can see, dealing with your expired passport is not simply a matter of throwing it in the bin. The threat of identity theft means that binning your passport could cause far more problems than it would solve! 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! Soon, your new passport will be on its way to your door, either by Royal Mail or by courier, and your next trip abroad will be that much closer…

What to do with your old UK passport – FAQs

What do you do with old expired passports?

There are several things you can do with old or expired passports. We recommend that you keep your expired passport, as it can still be extremely useful even if it is not valid. To get a new, valid passport, you need to be able to send your expired passport to the Passport Office by post, along with any other supporting documents, including your passport photo. If you do not think you are likely to want to renew your passport, you can still keep your expired passport, as it can make a good souvenir of all the trips you’ve taken in the past. If you are a citizen of the UK, Ireland, or a specific list of Commonwealth nations, you can also use an expired passport as proof of your permanent Right to Work in the UK. Should you have no desire to use your passport for any of the above, the passport service will be more than happy for you to send your expired passport to them in order for it to be safely disposed of. However, we nevertheless recommend that you keep your old passport, in case you decide you wish to renew it at a later date or wish to use it to prove your Right to Work.

Can you throw away your old passport?

No, you should avoid throwing away your old passport, as it opens you up to the risk of fraud and prevents you from using it to renew your passport. Without your old passport with you, getting a new passport will be more complicated, as you have to apply as if you had your passport stolen or lost, which would mean you need to find a countersignatory whose details you can give in your application, which can take time and delay the process. We recommend that you keep your old passport so you can add it to your passport renewal application.

Can you keep old passports?

It is a good idea to keep your old passports and keep them safe. This will prevent them from being exploited by identity thieves and will also give you the ability to use them in passport renewal applications. Using your old passport as part of the application is the easiest way to get a new passport. Without it, you’ll need to get a countersignatory, which will take a lot longer.

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