How To Apply For A Passport
An adult UK passport is valid for 10 years from the date of issue, and a child (under 16) passport is valid for 5 years.
As well as obtaining an application form from any Post Office, you can now complete the form online and pay the applicable fee with a debit or credit card. When complete, you will need to download and print the form you have completed and post it to HM Passport Office.
Applying online does not speed up the application process, and processing will not commence until the printed form is received at the issuing office, but does add a degree of convenience over the manual application process.
The application form is identical regardless of whether you are applying for an adult or child passport, or whether it is a first passport or a renewal, with dedicated sections on the form depending on the purpose of the application.
The form is quite simple to understand but, if you make an error, corrections are not allowed and a new form should be filled in.
Applying For Your First Passport
Applying for your first adult passport is similar to applying for a replacement or renewal, but with the exception that you will also be required to attend an interview at your nearest Passport Interview Office. This is to ensure applications are genuine, and helps to combat passport fraud. The interview takes about 30 minutes.
Your passport will not be issued at your interview, it is simply to confirm your identity.
Tracking Your Application
No confirmation of your application being received will be sent, unless it is your first passport when you will receive a letter asking you to attend an interview, but you can track your application online by using the 10-digit number from your application form. This tracking facility is available 3 weeks after you have submitted your application.
Having Your Passport Photo Countersigned
It used to be mandatory to have the back of any passport photo signed by a person who fulfilled the criteria for a valid countersignatory. Recently, the rules have been relaxed a little and countersigning is only required if you are applying for your first passport, are applying to replace a lost or stolen passport or if your appearance has changed significantly from the time your last passport was issued.
If required, the countersignatory must have known the applicant for more than 2 years, be able to identify them as a friend, neighbour or colleague and either be a person of good standing within the community or work in one of a list of approved countersignatory occupations. The countersignatory must also be a UK resident and be the holder of a current British or Irish passport.
Doctors are not considered valid countersignatories unless they know the applicant as a friend outside their profession and employees of HM Passport Office are also ineligible to countersign.
The countersignatory must write the words “I certify that this is a true likeness of [title and full name of the adult or child who will receive the passport].” They should also add their signature and the date under the statement. It is not necessary for the applicant to sign the photo.
HM Passport Office may contact your countersignatory if further information is required.
The Post Office Check and Send Service
The Post Office offer a Check and Send service at some branches. This involves a member of the Post Office staff checking your application, prior to sending it, to ensure all sections have been filled in correctly and that the submitted photo is suitable for the application. Your application will be sent by Special Delivery, and the process is usually completed faster than if you send your own application.
The current fee for Check and Send is £9.25 on top of the standard Passport application fee.
It should be noted that this is not a guaranteed service and, if the Post Office staff make a mistake, no refund of the application fee will be made. You may, though, be able to reclaim the Check and Send fee from the Post Office.
Receiving Your Passport
Your passport will be delivered by courier, for security purposes. If your application was for the renewal of an existing passport, your old passport will be returned separately by Royal Mail standard delivery. The old passport will have the top corner of the cover removed, rendering it invalid for use.