How long does it take to renew a passport and will I need a new one after Brexit?
British passports bear the words 'European Union' on the front cover, but will this soon change?
At the 2011 census, 42.5 million UK citizens said they held a passport – each one bearing the words "European Union" on the front cover. Now Britain has voted to withdraw from the EU, will those passports still be valid?
For the time being, yes. Britain will remain a fully paid-up member of the EU until Article 50 is triggered, probably by David Cameron's successor, and the subsequent two-year negotiation period has come to an end. So for holidays over the next couple of years, you should be covered.
As negotiations wrap up, Britain will likely begin the process of introducing new passports, without the words "European Union".
But what if you need to apply for a new passport soon? Will your new one still be valid even after the country has left the EU? Probably, says the BBC.
"While we can't say this for sure, it seems likely that the new design would just be phased in as existing passports expire."
Many Brits aren't prepared to wait that long, however - applications for Irish passports have risen sharply as those with Irish connections seek to secure their EU freedom of movement.
In the meantime, if you need to apply for a UK passport for the first time or renew an existing one, here's everything you need to know:
How do I renew my passport?
Passport application forms can be found online or picked up in a Post Office. Along with the completed application form, you will need to submit two identical photos that meet the requirements outlined here and your old passport. It will be cancelled and returned to you so that you can continue to use any unexpired visas alongside your new passport. Guidance about how to fill in the form can be found on the Passport Office website.
How do I apply for my first passport?
The process is similar to the renewal procedure outlined above, but you will need to have your photograph and application form countersigned by a "professional person" such as a teacher, police officer or solicitor in order to confirm your identity. You will also need to send in your birth certificate and, if you were born on or after 1 January 1983, your mother's birth certificate or passport number, or your father's birth certificate or passport number and your parents' marriage certificate.
How much does a UK passport cost?
A standard UK passport costs £72.50. Fast-tracking your application or using the Post Office's Check & Send service (see below) will add to the cost.
A child's passport costs £46.
How long does it take to get a passport?
It should usually take three weeks to renew a standard adult or child passport, or six weeks to be issued with your first British passport.
If you need a new passport more urgently, you can pay extra to book an appointment at a Passport Customer Service Centre and get your passport on the same day for £128 or within a week for £103. However, ordering an adult passport for someone who has not had one before can take six weeks, and the fast-track service is unavailable.
During busy times, including the run-up to Christmas and school holidays, waiting times can be longer. The Passport Office advises people to allow "plenty of time" to apply and not to book travel until the passport has been received.
How can I make sure my application isn't rejected?
Incorrectly filled in forms and photographs that do not meet the Passport Office's exacting standards are two common causes of rejection, which will extend your wait for a new passport.
"The guidelines of passport photos are so strict that the smallest of errors can lead to delays," the Passport Office warns. "No smiling, silly faces or poses." The photo must be framed correctly and be in proportion. For a full list of guidelines, refer to their website.
The Post Office offers a Check and Send service to ensure applicants don't fall foul of these problems. For a £9.75 fee, a member of staff will look through your application and photographs to make sure they comply with the rules.
However, the Passport Office advises against using this service during the Christmas period. It warns that delays caused by festive postal items can cause the average waiting time for your passport to be as long as 7-8 weeks.
"This obviously isn't of any use if you have already booked your travel or wish to travel in the next four weeks," it says. "Using the Fast Track Services options almost guarantees you piece of mind with your passport."
For more information, or to talk with a member of the Passport Office team, call 0300 222 000.