Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Twenty-Seventh Report


Memorandum by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office

CONSULAR FEES ORDER 1998 (S.I. 1998/257)

1.  The Committee has raised the following point on the above instrument:

        Given that the purpose of this Order is to increase passport fees with a view to achieving full cost recovery for consular services, explain (in relation to item 12 of Part II of the Schedule) why it costs less to provide a passport for a person under the age of 16 years than for a person over that age.

2.  Overall income from passport fees, received by UK Passport Agency and Foreign Office Consulates, needs firstly to recover the costs of producing and distributing the documents at home and abroad. It also needs to recover the costs to the Foreign Office of providing non­fee bearing consular protection services to British Nationals abroad (around £28 million per annum), such services being the entitlement of a passport holder.

3.  The fee for providing a passport to a person aged under 16 has been set to recover the home and foreign costs of producing and distributing the passport document. It does not, however, contribute any income towards the recovery of non­fee bearing consular protection service costs. The assumption has been made that, in all cases where such services are required, it is the parent or adult who obtains the services from the Foreign Office.

4.  Hence the total costs of these non­fee bearing services have been allocated to adult passports, resulting in the significantly higher price. Whilst cost recovery per passport service is the main principle, this approach enables the achievement of a secondary objective of levelling out the 10 year fee for a passport. Passports for persons aged under 16 are only valid for 5 years, to minimise the risk of appearance changing significantly from the passport photograph. Hence 2 passports per child need to be purchased to provide the 10 year coverage given for an adult's passport. The fee structure set up allows for this to be done at almost the same price as that for an adult's passport.

5.  Previously the full adult fee was charged for a child's passport limited to 5 years, and provision was given for a free renewal after 5 years to take the validity period up to 10 years. This structure over­recovered costs on the first application and under­recovered costs on the second. The erratic volumes of the free renewals between years caused problems for over or under­recovery of the full passport service costs, and this experience was part of the motivation behind the revised fee structure.

6th March 1998

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