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Passport fees balloon by almost 30%

A price 'that must be paid', Home Office says

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The Home Office has announced new, higher fees for the UK's shiny new biometric ePassport.

This is the second time the price of a standard passport has gone up in the last year. Last November prices rose from £42 to £51. Now, Joe Public will have to fork out an additional £15 for the privilege of being able to travel abroad - that's a rise of almost 30 per cent - because as of 5 October this year, a standard 10 year passport will cost £66.

Home Office minister Joan Ryan said in a press release that the new format "provides enhanced security and reassurance for the holders and is in line with internationally agreed standards aimed at combating the growing threat of fraud and forgery".

In a pre-emptive defense of the rising costs, Ryan continued: "There is a cost to the anti-fraud measures that we are introducing, but we are clear that it is a price that must be paid to protect the integrity of our travel documents and improve the security of our borders."

Again, the Home Office has rolled out a list of countries with even more expensive passports, in a bid to make us all feel better about the higher fees.

The Identity and Passport Service* also announced that it has now issued a million of the new e-passports. For the uninitiated, the E - prefix indicates that the passport booklet is decorated with a barcode, and contains a chip upon which is stored the holder's details and a scan of their photograph.

It will mean UK citizens will still be able to travel to the US under the visa waiver scheme. ®

*It became so on 1 April, 2006, following a merger with the Identity Cards Programme.

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