The Samui Times very often get enquiries from Brits asking for help with consular and visa matters. One of the most commonly asked questions is what to do when your British passport it full and you need to replace it.
The first port of call for Brits is usually the British Embassy in Bangkok. We have had many reports from Brits to say that the Embassy have been less than helpful with regards to passports, but it is important to remember that the British Embassy DO NOT deal with passports anymore, it is now the domain of the UK Visa Application Centre at the HM Passport Office Local Service Provider Thailand, so there is no point in calling them.
If you need to renew your British passport you can only do it via the HM Passport Office Local Service Provider office. You cannot make postal applications to renew your passport you, or a representative you have authorized to act for you has to go and see them in person. In order to see them you MUST make an appointment, you cannot just turn up at the office. You can make an appointment to see them by sending an email to BangkokHMPO@vfshelpline.com. This email address is ONLYL for booking an appointment to submit a passport application. You must mail this address to schedule your appointment. In the email you need to include your first and last name and send three alternative dates and times when you can visit. The office is on Sukumivit 13 in Bangkok. You will then receive an email back confirming the date and time of your appointment. Please note that the Visa Application Centre will not be able to respond to any passport enquiries, for that you need to use the https://www.gov.uk/ website or passport advice line by calling 0044 300 222 0000 not your local Embassy or High Commission. The line is open on Monday to Friday 8am – 8pm UK time and between 9am and 5-30pm on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays.
After sending an email with your preferred dates, the following day you will get an email back informing you of the date and time of your appointment.
You will then need to visit https://www.gov.uk/overseas-passports to download the application form and find out what kind of supporting documents you will need for your application.
The Passport office is on the 28th floor of the Trendy Building that can be found on Soi 13 in Shukumvit 13. It is about 100 meters down from the main road and very close to the Nana BTS Skytrain station. In the very large reception area you will find copy and translation services. Before you reach the building you will find a passport photo booth where you can make passport photos yourself for 120 baht, or you can go to the shop on the corner of Sukumvit 11/1 one block down where a very helpful lady will take your photos for you for only 220 baht.
Any touts you come across outside the office are to be ignored.
You will need to arrive no more than five minutes before your appointment, only the applicant can go up to the office and you can only make one application per appointment. Once you have had your appointment letter stamped at the main reception on the ground floor of the Trendy Building you need to go to the rear of the building and take the elevator to the 28th floor. You will then have to confirm your appointment once again at the desk in the first office before going into a waiting area via a security check area where your bag will be searched, so it’s a good idea not to take too much and its worth turning your phone off as calls during your visits are frowned upon.
It is not mandatory for you to personally visit the office, a friend or relative can make the application on your behalf, however it is your responsibility to ensure your application is complete and you need to ensure your representative has a letter of authority to make the application on your behalf. You cannot post your application, it can only be done via this office.
To renew a full passport you will need to have a completed application form, a copy of the application, a colour copy of every page of your passport, your existing passport and you need to fill in the payment form that you can download from this page https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/overseas-passport-creditdebit-card-payment-authorisation
You can use Mastercard, Visa, Electron, Diners Club and JCB to pay, your application may be delayed if your card has run out, if you do not give the expiry date or the three digit security number, you also need to write the correct fee that includes a courier service that costs twenty three pounds and one pence.
The total fee for an adult standard 32 page passport is one hundred and six pounds and one pence, an Adult jumbo 48 page passport costs one hundred and fourteen pounds and one pence. You can use either a credit or debit card, you CANNOT pay in cash as the office.
When renewing your passport you will be asked of proof of address in Thailand, if the proof you are using, such as a Thai driving license or work permit is in Thai you will need to get have them translated into English and English certified. There is an office by the elevator on the ground floor of the Trendy Building who can do this for you, each translation takes up to one hour, even if they tell you it will take ten minutes so leave plenty of time. The translations cost around 500 baht per item.
You will need two passport photos on a white background.
When you are called to your appointment a small door will be unlocked behind which is six booths, the assistant behind the glass will go through your application to ensure it is complete, this only takes a few minutes. You will be given a photocopied receipt as proof of your passport application and also a DHL Airway Bill Number for the courier to the UK. Your passport application will then be processed by HMPO in the UK. This process can take between 6 and 9 weeks from the time the application reaches Liverpool, so ensure that you do this in plenty of time if you do a three monthly visa run. Your existing passport will be handed back to you, however you will not be able to travel on it but you can use it for ID purposes such as using domestic flights within Thailand.
Once your passport has been renewed, either you or a representative will need to go back o the office to pick it up. If you sent a representative they will need to show a letter of authority from you, present your old passport and show their ID, you will also need to take a copy of the email informing you that your passport is ready for collection, you will need to present this to the reception on the ground floor in order to be allowed to enter the centre to collect your passport. You do not need an appointment to collect your new passport you can turn up on any working day between 9am to 3pm.
Other notes –
You can fly to Bangkok from Koh Samui directly via Bangkok Airways, however it you are on a budget it is worth going via Surat Thani on either Air Asia or Nok Air. Both of these airlines will take you to Don Muang Airport. If you leave the airport and go to the main highway you can find metered taxis to take you to the office for as little as 150 baht, the return journey costs a little more, we paid 200 baht for the taxi and 150 baht to us the toll road back to the airport.
If you want to stay overnight there is an I Check in Hotel one block from the passport office on 11/1. The rooms are very clean, it is only a five minute walk to the Trendy Building and rooms include unlimited free coffee from a machine in reception and free, very fast wifi. From here it is only a five minute walk to Nana Plaza and the Indian quarter where you can fine some incredible Indian food. If you want to explore Bangkok you can buy a one day pass for the BTS sky train for 120 baht.
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