June 10, 2024 |

Holiday season is just around the corner – and, for many UK holidaymakers, bagging a bargain on flights and accommodation is all part of the fun. Around 64% of us are planning a foreign holiday this year, but few of us want the extra costs that come with renewing or replacing a passport, especially as the price has risen twice in 14 months. 

The latest price increase in April this year put the passport up from £82.50 to £88.50, while the cost of a postal application rose from £93 to £100.

Since blue passports were introduced in 2020, Brits have been subject to the 10-year rule which means some disappointed travellers were turned away from EU countries because their passports had nearly expired. Before Brexit, they could be used for 10 years and nine months, meaning you didn’t need to replace them as often.

As a digital PR agency, working with clients in the personal finance and travel sectors, we wanted to find out which nations’ passports offer the best value for money, both in terms of price and the number of countries you can visit visa-free. 

Our researchers created an index ranking 131 countries, using the Henley Passport Index to find out the number of visa-free access each country’s passport grants, and combined this with the passport price, number of years valid and average salaries.

How far will the UK passport get you? 

Our research revealed that the value of the UK passport has dropped four places following the latest price rise in April. It initially ranked 31st out of 131 countries but has now fallen to 35, just below Luxembourg, Finland, Malaysia, and Trinidad and Tobago. 

The prices of passports in different countries with the same year’s validity are lower than the UK. Germany charges £60.21 with access to 194 countries, a French passport sets citizens back £73.97 with access to 194 countries and it would cost you £64.51 for an Irish passport with access to 193 countries. 

These countries offer one or two more visa-free countries to holiday in, and the lower price point means they offer more value for money when compared to the UK passport. For each year the UK passport is valid, Brits are paying £8.85 which works out to 2.68% of an average monthly salary. In this aspect, Brits fare better than Irish citizens who are paying for their passport with 17.70% of their salary. 

Despite rising costs, recently released data from HM Passport Office reveals that in Q1 2024 alone, there were over 2.5 million passport applications and 2.2 million of these were issued. In 2023, the total number of passport applications nearly reached 8 million. 

The top 50 best passports for your money 

Out of the 131 visa-free countries, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) offers the best value for its passport. The 10-year passport is a steal at £10.82 where citizens from places like Dubai or Abu Dhabi can holiday in 184 countries. It’s also proportionate to their wages – working out to 0.37% of a monthly salary. 

Ranking second is Spain whose 10-year passport grants entry to 194 countries at a cost of £25.80. Spaniards are paying £62.70 less for a passport when compared to the UK and can fly to two more countries than Brits. 

South Korea is right on its tail with access to 193 countries for 10 years at a price of £29.10. Following closely behind is Poland charging £28.18 for 189 countries and Latvia slightly cheaper at £24.48 but less countries at 186. 

The most expensive passport in the top 50 list belongs to Denmark costing £102.58 for 10.33 years validity. The cost is just £14.08 higher than the UK and it grants access to the same number of countries but is valid for longer.The second most expensive passport belongs to Italy at £99.78, followed by New Zealand at £98.85, then Canada at £93.28 – placing the UK passport as the fifth most expensive in the top 50. 

Commenting on the research, Maxine McCreadie, personal finance expert at UK Debt Expert, said:

“With over half of Brits planning a foreign holiday this year, passport applications will be a top priority and many may be left surprised at the price. 

“Households are already battling the rising cost of living and the cost of passports, plus the 10% increase in holiday prices, could put a stop to travel plans.”

“The UK passport has become one of the priciest in Europe, especially compared to countries like Spain, which offers better access to countries for £62.70 less.”

Five budgeting tips for the ultimate getaway 

  • Create a realistic budget factoring in food, hotel, gifts, activities and travel – leaving a small reserve in your budget for surprise costs. 
  • Consider travelling during off-peak seasons or mid-week for the best flight prices, for example, prices tend to inflate during school holidays and Christmas.
  • Research the best transport methods – will it be more cost effective to travel by coach or ferry? 
  • Use cash or prepaid travel cards so that you aren’t left with a big credit card bill.  
  • Research deals and discounts – if you’re a student or over 65 you could get discounted flights or a better luggage allowance.