The new service has been officially launched and will be available alongside existing application methods until early in 2014, when it will replace the current paper application form.
According to the SIA, the service with the Post Office means most applicants can benefit from the reduced costs of not having to post valuable documents and supply a photograph.
Under the new system, applicants will fill in their application on the SIA website and are instructed which documents to take to a participating Post Office.
The Post Office staff will check and return the documents. In addition they will take a digital photograph of the applicant and an electronic version of their signature as well as payment of the application fee.
The photograph and signature are sent electronically to the SIA and added to the applicant’s information already received. The applicant will not be charged by the Post Office for using the service.
Stephen McCormick, director of service delivery at the SIA, said: “Our new licence application service will make applying for an SIA licence easier and cheaper, reducing the overall cost for the applicant.
“We are really pleased to launch this new service with the Post Office; this is a crucial step as we move away from a paper based system. The face to face element of the new service will reduce errors, which can cause applications to be rejected, and will help to discourage fraud.”
Kevin Seller, head of government services at the Post Office, predicted the new system will result in a reduction of application errors on top of “less cost and inconvenience” for applicants by having their documents checked at the Post Office.
He added: “The Post Office currently provides a broad range of government services such as renewing passports, driving licence applications and biometric facilities.
“We are very pleased to be providing the face to face element of the SIA’s new online licence application service and supporting the delivery of modern digital services on behalf of government.”