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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 November 2005, 13:05 GMT
UK passport price to rise to 51
A new British biometric European Union passport,
New biometric passports will contain a security chip
The price of a standard UK passport is to rise by 21% to help fight fraud and boost security, the Home Office said.

It will raise the cost of an adult 10-year passport by 9 to 51 from 1 December and will fund background checks and face-scanning techniques.

Home Office minister Andy Burnham called the rise "a price worth paying" to protect passport holders from fraud.

It will pay for measures including biometrics which will form the basis of the controversial national ID scheme.

The increase follows a 27% rise in the cost of a passport two years ago.

'Growing threat'

The UK Passport Service said the measures will help combat the "rapidly growing threat of passport fraud" and increasingly sophisticated forms of forgery.

They will include enhanced background checks on applicants and face-to-face interviews for first-time adult applicants from October 2006.

1 December 2005: Passport price to rise to 51
February 2006: Passports with biometric facial images, rather than digital photos, start being issued
August 2006: All new passports should be biometric
October 2006: Start of interviews for passport applicants, in place of postal applications
2008: Combined passports and ID cards to be issued

The measures will also include the gradual introduction of biometric "ePassports" from February, which will include a scan of the passport holder's facial features embedded in a chip.

Mr Burnham said: "Countries all around the world are moving to strengthen the security of identity documents in the face of the growing threat of fraud and forgery. We cannot afford to stand idle."

He said the UK was among more than 40 countries preparing to issue biometric passports.

'More increases ahead'

The minister said the price hike was not a subsidy for the planned identity card scheme, he said.

But the biometric technology could later link up to the ID card scheme, which is due to include fingerprints and iris scans.

"There will be further price increases, it's not the end of the story because the passport is going to change in further ways too," Mr Burnham told the BBC News website.

He said the price increase would begin to pay for interviewing passport applicants, rather than accepting applications by post.

Under government plans, people applying for a new passport in 2008 will have to get an identity card too.

Ministers have yet to say how much people will pay for the combined identity card-passport.

But they say it will cost 93 to produce each card and register a person on the national identity database.

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