What to Do With an Old Passport: All Options Explained

An expired British passport and what to do with it.
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Nothing lasts forever—especially passports, which have a validity period of 10 years. At some point, you may find yourself thinking: What am I supposed to do with my old passport?

Worry not. In this article, we will go through every option British citizens have to get rid of their passports (or keep them, if you want). Here’s what we’ll cover:

Interested in other passport-related articles? Take a look at one of these:

Do you need to keep old passports?

If your passport has expired and you do not wish to renew it, your first impulse might be to throw it away. Don’t do it—although expired, your passport is a collection of your personal information, and it’s still a treasure for fraudsters who could easily use your UK passport for identity theft.

Moreover, even if you’re not considering renewing your British passport at this time, your old passport will be a crucial part of the renewal process should you decide to change your mind.

Did you know? According to the Identity and Passport service, more than 10,000 people throw away their UK passports with their rubbish each year.

So, can you keep your old UK passport? Absolutely. As we said, it will be useful for a future renewal application. However, we recommend taking extra precautions while storing your passport. Consider the following:

  • Keep your passport in a safe place, preferably in a waterproof package
  • Lock your passport somewhere only you have access to
  • Avoid keeping your passport in a pocket or any place easily accessible to thieves

Do you prefer to get rid of your passport? Keep reading to find out how to securely dispose of your document.

What to do with your old passport—options.

Where do I send my old passport?

During your British passport renewal process, one of the steps includes sending your old passport to HM Passport Office, regardless of whether you apply online or by post.

The exact HM Passport Office address to which you should send your old passport is provided on your renewal application form. However, you may also wish to send your passport without going through the renewal process. For this purpose, use the following address:

Customer Service Manager
HM Passport Office
PO Box 767

If you would like the Passport Office to dispose of your old passport, attach a request note to your mailing envelope. Also, to be on the safe side, cut the top right corner of your passport and use a registered courier service.

Returning your old British passport to HMPO is not the only option to get rid of it. Below, you’ll find instructions on how to destroy your old passport yourself.

How to dispose of old passports

As mentioned, we strongly discourage you from throwing your UK passports away in one piece. Even if your document is expired, it still contains your personal information. Therefore, the UK government introduced some recommendations for destroying old passports.

  1. Cut out your biometric passport photo.
  2. Cut your old passport into small pieces.
  3. If possible, put each piece into a shredder.
  4. Throw the remains out into different containers.

That way, you’ll ensure that nobody can reconstruct your passport. Another safe way to destroy your passport is to burn the pieces after cutting the document.

Remember: Destroying your newly expired passport makes it impossible to renew your document—you will have to submit a new passport application in the future.  

What to do with old passports when someone dies

If a death has occurred in your family or your closest surroundings, it is important to notify His Majesty’s Passport Office. This can be done by:

  • Calling the passport adviceline (0300 222 0000)
  • Using the Tell Us Once service
  • Sending the Death Notification (D1) form
  • Visiting a British consulate or embassy if you’re outside of the UK

Note: You can inform the Passport Office using the Tell Us Once service only if you know the deceased person’s passport number.

You can decide whether the Passport Office should dispose of the old passport or just cancel it and return it to you. If you are in possession of the deceased person’s passport, you must send it to HMPO, but remember to cut the top right corner of the document first.


Can I destroy my old passport?

Yes, you can. However, HMPO recommends sending your old passport to the passport office, where they’ll securely destroy the document. If you want to do it yourself, cut your passport into small pieces and throw them away in different bins.

Do I need to return my old passport?

If you’re going through the passport renewal process—yes, you must send your old UK passport along with other documents. If you’re not planning to renew your passport, you can keep or destroy it, although HMPO recommends storing your old passport in a safe place.

What should you do with an expired passport?

If you’re not planning on renewing your expired passport, you can either store it safely or dispose of it by cutting the document to pieces and throwing it away into different containers. You can also send your expired passport to HMPO and ask them to dispose of it in a secure way.

Can I send my old passport with a first-class stamp?

Yes, you can. In fact, mailing your passport with a first-class stamp gives you the minimum level of security. HMPO recommends sending your old passport using a registered courier service.

Can I send two old passports back in the same envelope?

Yes. If you’re sending your British passports to the same Passport Office, there’s no issue in sending them in one envelope.

What to do with old passports—summary

Unless you’re going through the renewal process, during which you must send your current passport to His Majesty’s Passport Office, what you do with your old passport is entirely up to you.

If you decide to keep your old passport, remember to store it in a safe place. If you prefer to destroy it, you can ask HMPO to do it or dispose of your passport yourself. However, remember the government recommendations on destroying your passport safely.

If someone you know has died, and you have their passport, inform the Passport Office immediately and ensure the passport is safely stored or destroyed.


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