Passport fees are set to soar to £51, thanks to a 21 per cent (£9) increase to pay for the inclusion of biometrics and other security measures. The increase will come into effect as of 1 December, the Home Office said.
The money will be used to fund better background checks and face-to-face interviews with first time adult applicants (as from 2006), the department added. This is in addition to the cost of including facial biometrics on a chip embedded in the booklet.
Bernard Herdan, chief executive of the UKPS, said that background checks and face-to-face interviews were necessary to "protect the integrity of the British Passport".
"The anti-fraud measures that the new fees will support will create a huge deterrent to would-be fraudsters. They will help us detect and prevent fraudulent applications, and make our passports even harder to misuse or forge," he added.
To make us all feel better about the prospect of having to shell out more cash to travel abroad, the Home Office has helpfully compiled a list of international prices for machine readable passports here (pdf). Check out the site and you will discover that in Japan, the same document would set you back more than £80, while Spain charges its citizens no more than £11.
Home Office minister Andy Burnham said: "It is a price worth paying in order to protect passport holders from fraud and afford them continued convenient international travel."
The new passports will be rolled out over a six month period after which production of non-biometric passports will stop. ®