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You can now apply for a first time adult passport online
HM Passport Office (HMPO) have launched a new and improved digital service to enable British Citizens to apply for a first time adult passport online.
18 December 2018 | Posted by Clare Watson (Kainos Agile Delivery Lead)

Having already processed over 2 million passport renewals (mentioned in our previous blog) and received extremely positive user feedback, we have now opened up the service to first time adult applications.

“Opening our digital customer service to first time adult passport applicants is another huge step forward for HM Passport Office on our transformation journey.  The passport renewal service has been a great success, and it has been really exciting to see so many teams collaborating and building on this to tackle the more complex customer journeys, as well as continuing to improve the core service. And, hitting these milestones and delivering as promised gives me great confidence for our future service provision!”

Philippa Manley, Deputy Director, HM Passport Office:

The new first time adult passport service

Previously, applying for your first time adult (FTA) passport could be a daunting and complicated process. User research indicated that users were often left feeling confused about the documents required to complete their application, attending interviews and the process of getting their identity confirmed, known as a countersignature.

The new first time adult passport service builds on the passport renewals toolset which includes the innovative photo upload tool, online declaration and clear guidance. The process is really simple, citizens can apply for, renew or replace a passport on GOV.UK

In addition to the above, the new service offers:

  • improved guidance throughout the entire passport application process
  • specific guidance on the documents users need to send in
  • the ability for users to get someone to confirm their identity online

Users now get improved guidance throughout the entire passport application process

As mentioned above, our initial user research indicated that users felt uncertain about what was involved when applying for their first time passport.

Our new service provides users with contextual step-by-step guidance throughout the process. For example at the beginning of the journey, users are presented with the ‘How to apply’ and ‘What you’ll need’ pages to enable them to get all of their information ready before starting their application.

As a result of our improved guidance, we have already seen very positive feedback from users via survey feedback and Twitter.

“A very good, intuitive process – much easier to use.” 

(survey feedback)

Users now get specific guidance about documents they need to send in

We have aimed to simplify the entire process for FTA passport applications by providing specific guidance for users to ensure they send in the correct documents first time around.

Previously a user had to figure out from tables which documents they needed to return. Now by answering a few simple questions, the new service generates a list of required documents which a user can refer back to at any time.

Instead of a table of documents users now get a specific list of documents they need to send in.

As a result users are better informed and HMPO receive the correct documents. This reduces the administrative tasks in phone calls and writing out to users to ask for the correct documents.

Users can now get someone to confirm their identity online

In a significant development for HMPO, our new service removes the need for users to ask their friends or neighbour to sign the back of their photograph i.e. countersigning a passport application.

Our service enables users to nominate someone via an online portal to confirm their identity. Users can now simply provide the name and email address of the person they would like to confirm their identity. The nominated person will be provided with a reference number via email which will enable them to answer a series of questions to confirm the users details and that their photograph is a true likeness of them.

Instead of signing the back of the photograph, the nominated person can now confirm this online. 

Our feedback has shown users like the new service because it was easier than they expected and more convenient because they could complete it in their own time.

“A positive use of modern technology! Much easier being an online service that is accessible and faster for users.” 

(survey feedback)

Meet the team

Working with Kainos as their delivery partner, the Digital Customer Services (DCS) team at HMPO has embarked on an ambitious journey to completely digitise and improve the intake, and the processing of all passport applications. Our goal is to build services that users want to use rather than have to use, whilst delivering organisational transformation to save the taxpayer money.

The HMPO and Kainos team responsible for building the service

Our team builds services based on user needs, prototype testing with members of the public and uses agile delivery based on user centered design and applying the Government Digital Service standards. This is part of an ongoing culture change for HMPO and the transition continues to be challenging and exciting.

The quality and success of the team and our service has been widely recognised. So much so that we were nominated for the following 2 awards this year;

  • The Institute of Customer Service UK Satisfaction Awards 2018 – Best Customer Service Co-Creation/Collaboration Award and
  • The Civil Service Awards – The Digital Award (Shortlisted in the Top 3)

What’s next from the team?

We are now working on child applications and soon we will be releasing the ability for 12-15 year olds to renew and replace their damaged passport online. This will broaden our service to a new age group!

The first time adult and 12-15 journeys will pave the way for the team to iterate and deliver more complex services, including first time child and 0-11 year old renewal application types. These will be launching in the new year and will enable us to accept applications for all age groups.

Please get in touch if you have any questions or comments.

Written by Clare Watson, Kainos Delivery Lead and Mark Prince, HMPO Product Manager

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