The surge in demand led to unprecedented numbers of counter applications for the Passport Service to process and customers facing delays to their summer holiday or missing out altogether.
Figures show that parents applying for passports for their children and young people aged 16 to 20 were the two biggest groups to submit a last-minute application.
Despite extra staff being employed by IPS during summer months, there are limited numbers of appointments at passport offices for a fast-track service and customers cannot always rely on a last minute call to the Passport Service to beat the rush.
To avoid a disappointing summer, IPS is urging customers to apply before April to ensure they have their passport in time. They could receive it quicker than the advised three week period and save up to 55.50 by avoiding having to pay for a premium service for a standard passport.
Sarah Rapson, Chief Executive of the Identity and Passport Service, said:
The Identity and Passport Service works hard each year to process more than 5.5 million applications to ensure customers can travel abroad for business or on holiday.
But to ensure passports remain one of the most trusted and secure documents in the world, each application takes time to process.
All too often people plan every other part of their holiday and forget one of the most important things - their passport. They are then forced to apply last minute, running the risk of missing out on the holiday altogether.
Applying early and outside the busy summer months will help ensure customers receive their passport in good time and could even save them money.
More than 100,000 Londoners applied for a passport in July alone last year. This compares with 65,000 in January. Customers from boroughs in South East London made the most applications last year and parents applying for passports for children and young people up to the age of 15 were the highest group of applicants.
Passport applications in JanuaryPassport applications in July
Greater London (total)65,000100,000
South East London5,57510,054
South West London5,5858,638
North West London3,4995,875
Parents applying for a child passport19,00040,000
Raquel Brooks, 37, from Croydon, was one such customer who booked a fast track appointment with IPS earlier this month after realising her sons passport had expired just days before they were due to go on holiday to Portugal.
Ms Brooks said:
IPS gave a very good and quick service and I would definitely recommend applying at this time of year.
I would also encourage people to check their passports are valid before booking, especially if they have children, as we could have missed out.
Those aged 16 to 20 are the most likely to leave it until the last minute for an adult passport, with more than 10,000 applications submitted in July last year compared to less than 5,000 in January.
From September 2012 it became even cheaper to apply for a passport with a standard adult passport dropping in price by 5 to 72.50. All other application types also reduced in price.
Notes to editors
1.The breakdown of passport applications for the London area by postcode in January and July 2012 can be found below.
January 2012 AdultJanuary 2012 ChildJanuary 2012 totalJuly 2012 AdultJuly 2012 ChildJuly 2012 total
BR14825882070 (16)226513963661 (16)
CR14828012579 (12)273917594498 (12)
DA18707402610 (11)305918254884 (11)
E375921905949 (1)579337009493 (2)
EC16640206 (19)188115303 (19)
EN15856312216 (15)236416464010 (13)
HA235110133364 (8)318321085291 (10)
IG14688382306 (14)229715463843 (15)
KT259511033698 (5)369924586157 (6)
N386218035665 (2)531339729285 (3)
NW237211273499 (6)336825075875 (7)
RM20829042986 (10)354421825726 (8)
SE377018055575 (4)6131392310054 (1)
SM9214391360 (18)15379862523 (18)
SW394916363297 (9)522634128638 (4)
TW23199785646 (3)322922255454 (9)
UB16078422449 (13)238216093991 (14)
W236510073372 (7)520721627369 (5)
WC11837155 (20) 17494268 (20)
WD12585321790 (17)176512122977 (17)
2.Customers can renew their passport in one of three ways:
- fill in the form online - the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) will post it back to you to check and sign;
- collect a form from a Post Office that offers the Passport Check & Send service
- ask the Passport Advice line to post you one.
3.For further information on applying for a passport and fees, go to https://www.gov.uk/browse/citizenship/passports
4.For media enquiries, please contact Home Office press office on 020 7035 3535.