MADRID/LONDON As from Monday, May 13, British citizens needing a new passport will no longer have to send the application to the Madrid processing centre, but to the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) in Belfast instead. According to the head of the Madrid centre, Andy Hamilton, "All it means is a change of address." But it's more than that. The cost of sending an application to the UK is comparatively more costly, for a start. What is not clear is that, in order to receive a new pasport, charges for courier service (instead of the mail) will still apply - if so, those too are likely to be more expensive. While until recently phone calls to the passport helpline were charged at premium rates, from yesterday all it will require is>>>a call to the UK (IPS Customer Service: +44 (0) 300 222 0000) at 'normal' cost. The British Consulate in Madrid is 902 109 356 - which costs just under a 'premium' number (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org - not in Madrid).
There are some 300,000 British subjects (as we once were) in Spain, many of whom are on the verge of destitution thanks to cutbacks, exchange rates, town planning corruption and so on. Many of them are not able to access the internet, or know how to do so. And plenty cannot afford the almost €200 it costs to obtain a vital document that is their right. Yet the British government continues to try to make a profit from it by cutting back on services to their own countrymen abroad.
More information: www.gov.uk/overseas-passports