Don't Get Burned For Free Services
So, you are thinking about going on an international holiday in the near future and need to apply for a new or renewal passport and/or European Health Insurence Card (EHIC). Like many people, your first stop may well be to investigate the process required using the internet.
You will almost certainly come accross some offical-looking websites that will offer to support your through the application process - for a fee!
All the services which were recently tested by a survey carried out by our friends at Which Magazine, offered services which claimed to offer a high level of client support, such as form checking and application updates. However, on further inspection, the investigation carried out by Which revealed that these sites offered virtually nothing that you could not achieve yourself, for free, using offical websites.
Whilst such practices may seem on the borderline of legality, there is presently no law which governs such organisations, other then the fact that they must be upfront and honest about their services. However, in practice, it can be hard to spot these disclaimers on their sites and many customers have certainly paid for services that they could easily have achieved themselves. In fact, the results of the Which survey revealed that claims made on a number of such websites may have breached the consumer protection regulations.
The answer of course, is to be weary of search results on such search engines as Google, where sponsered link results are likely to be from non-offical applications providers.
To help you in your applications we have attached the official links for passports and EHIC below:
We would like to thank the internationally renowned Which magazine for the inspiration behind this article