The cost of a UK passport is set to soar from Thursday April 11, marking the second increase in just over 14 months. From midnight, the fee for an online application for a new or renewed adult passport will jump from £82.50 to £88.50.

Following a steep 9% rise in February 2023, this 7% hike has been met with dismay by consumer group Which?, who said that travellers due to renew would "likely be shocked" by the sudden increase.

The Home Office has defended the price surge, insisting that it operates on a non-profit basis and that the additional funds will be channelled into enhancing services. Which? Travel's Guy Hobbs advised: "If you've been meaning to renew your passport, today is your last opportunity to beat the price hikes."

The online application fee for a child's passport will also see a rise, going from £53.50 to £57.50. Postal applications will experience a bump too, with adult passports going from £93 to £100 and child passports from £64 to £69. Applying from overseas or for urgent passport needs incurs higher costs. However, passports remain free for individuals born on or before 2 September 1929.

Before the previous year's increase, passport fees had remained static for five years, with a standard adult online application costing £75.50. Which?'s Mr Hobbs commented on the trend: "The cost of renewing a passport has jumped significantly in the last few years, with this latest price hike following hot on the heels of a hefty 9% rise just last year."

He also noted: "While these price rises may well reflect rising production or processing costs, the UK passport is now amongst the priciest in Europe." Brits are forking out some of the highest fees in Europe for their passports, with the online price tag of an £88.50 UK passport being eclipsed only by Switzerland at £122, Denmark at £103, and Italy at £99.50. Meanwhile, our friends across the pond in the US are paying £103 for their travel documents.

Martyn James, a staunch consumer rights advocate, didn't mince his words: "Just because a business or organisation can raise prices doesn't mean they should. The starting point with any price increase - and this is 16 percentage points over 14 months - should be what are you doing to make the service better." Post-pandemic blues have hit British travellers hard, with a staggering number of passport processing delays causing chaos and scuppering holiday plans. A whopping 360,000 people were left hanging for more than 10 weeks to get their hands on their passports during the first nine months of 2022, according to the National Audit Office's findings.

James didn't hold back in his critique: "The Passport Office has struggled with meeting its basic obligations, so many users will question what they are getting for their money." In response to the outcry over costs, the Home Office have defended the steep fees, claiming that the extra cash will help cover the cost of issuing passports and cut down on the need for taxpayer funding.

In a separate note, UK holidaymakers are being alerted to the "passport 10-year rule" when visiting EU nations. Previously, Brits could transfer up to nine months from an old passport onto a new one, but now, following Brexit, EU states won't recognise passports issued over a decade ago. With around 32 million people having applied for passports before these changes came into effect, the exact number of those impacted remains unclear.

Meanwhile, travel body ABTA has issued a reminder this Wednesday for travellers to adhere to current airport security protocols concerning liquids and hand luggage. This announcement aligns with the government's decision to push back the deadline for UK airports to implement advanced security scanners, which would have otherwise eliminated the restriction on liquids exceeding 100ml.