Embassy issues passport warning

Processing will switch from Paris to UK later this year - and take longer

2 April 2011

British expats in France will no longer able to obtain passports from the Paris consulate, as part of plans to streamline the issue of British passports worldwide.

"People should not panic about what it means," said Marina Pettigrew, the British consul-general in Paris.

In the first instance, the change will be only technical.

From April 1, the consulate will still receive and process applications, but will do so on behalf of the UK Identity and Passport Service (IPS), which processes passports within the UK. Later this year, all passports will be printed by the IPS.

The Foreign Office says that Britons in most countries will then receive their passport directly from the UK, though the Paris consulate cannot yet confirm if this will apply to people in France.

Ms Pettigrew said it was possible that Britons in France will see a change in the courier fee for return of the passport at some point this year; more details should be known from April. "They are thinking of using a global couriership service," she said.

Ms Pettigrew said people should keep a close eye on the British embassy website http://ukinfrance.fco.gov.uk.

The embassy’s passport section has already been changed to a worldwide standardised format. As part of this, it now advises allowing four weeks to receive a passport, as opposed to its former 14-day target.

She added it is not yet known whether shifting processing to the UK will mean cheaper passports or passport advice for expats, though there will be no change to passport costs while Paris is processing them.

An expat’s passport in France costs €160 plus €18 couriership, compared to £77.50 and free secure delivery in the UK.

Expats must also use the outsourced Careline (£0.60 plus VAT/minute, plus any fee charged by a French operator), instead of the IPS’s Adviceline, which costs the same as callling a British landline.

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