The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has recently undertaken a review of the fees charged for visa and consular services overseas. On 6 March 2007 Her Majesty in Council approved the Consular Fees Order 2007. This revokes and replaces the Consular Fees Order 2005. The Government are today announcing new fees to be charged under this Order with effect from 1 April 2007.
The Order increases fees for notarial services, estate administration, attendances, matters undertaken relating to legal proceedings and repatriation and financial assistance. It raises fees for consular assistance in births, deaths, marriages and shipping, seamen and kindred matters. The Order also increases fees for passports (issued overseas) and visas, and for certain searches undertaken by consular officials.
Overseas passport fees are raised from £91 to £119 (standard passport for those 16 years or over), from £59 to £76 (standard passports for those under 16) and from £109 to £144 (48-page passport). The fee for amending an existing passport abroad will be increased from £75.50 to £97.50. The Order also raises the fee for issuing emergency passports from £43.50 to £55.50 and temporary passport fees are increased from £55 to £70.50.
Some 60 per cent. of visa customers use commercial partners to handle their application. In addition to the basic visa fee there is an additional charge for this service, levied by the commercial partner, which varies from country to country. These fees range from £3.57 to £44.74 for each visa application, with an average fee of £11.60. From 1 April these applicants will no longer need to pay a separate fee to commercial partners: the cost of this service will be incorporated into the visa fee for the first time. Reflecting this, and other new costs, fees for six-month multiple entry visas have increased from £50 to £63, for students from £85 to £99 and for transit visas from £30 to £44. Applications for settlement and marriage visas have increased from £260 to £500, while applications for other visas and for a certificate of right of abode have increased from £85 to £200.
The rise in visa fees reflects the full cost of providing an effective visa service which not only protects the UK from illegal working, organised crime, extremism and terrorism, but which also provides the best service to the travellers and migrants the UK wants to attract. In addition to recovering our costs, we have set the visa fees to ensure we maintain UK competitiveness and our prime place as a destination of choice for students, business, workers and visitors alike, reflecting the policy on a new charging regime announced with the Home Office today and itself the subject of a written ministerial statement. This has enabled us to set visa fees below cost for categories which are relatively sensitive. UK visas has carried out extensive research to underpin the decision-making process.
It is right that those who benefit from consular services should help meet the cost of them, rather than the UK taxpayer. The new fees represent the full economic cost of what we do, and will ensure that British missions overseas continue to provide a high standard of service to visa and consular customers. They will also enable further improvements to service delivery as set out in the 2004 Consular Strategy—updated July 2005 and presently undergoing revision prior to publication late this year.
A table of the new fees has been placed in the Library of the House.