Passport price forced up by biometric chip costs

Anti-fraud plans not cheap...

Anti-fraud plans not cheap...

The price of a UK passport is to rocket 18 per cent because of the cost of new security measures including biometrics.

From December the price of a standard 10-year adult passport will jump £9 to £51. The government said the price hike reflects the cost of implementing anti-fraud measures to combat the rapidly growing threat of passport fraud and forgery.

Anti-fraud features include the gradual introduction of new biometric 'ePassports' from February 2006, which will contain a scan of the holder's facial features embedded in a chip.

The UK Passport Service said it will manage the volume of biometric ePassports issued during the anticipated six-month rollout period. Biometric and traditional passports will be identically priced during that period but that will cease when biometric passports are fully rolled out and old-style passport production stops.

Other features include enhanced background checks on applicants and face-to-face interviews for first-time adult applicants from October 2006.

This fee increase will fund the first phase of implementation of these key measures, with a further fee review taking place next year.

Passport fees last rose in 2003 to fund the introduction of secure delivery of passports and the launch of a database of lost and stolen passports.

Home Office minister Andy Burnham said in a statement: "We are determined to ensure the British passport remains one of the most secure in the world, and we are one of over 40 countries preparing to issue new biometric ePassports."