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Applying for a British Passport

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 17 Oct 2018 | comments*Discuss
Applying For A British Passport

The Identity and Passport Service (IPS) is the Home Office department which issues passports to British citizens in the UK. British citizens abroad who wish to apply for a passport should contact their local embassy or consulate or the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Applying for an Adult UK Passport

Anyone applying for their first adult British passport is likely to have to attend an interview before their passport is issued and the whole process may take considerably longer than for a passport renewal. Applicants are advised not to make any firm travel arrangements before they receive their passport and to allow six weeks between the date of the application and the date on which they wish to travel.

Applicants who are renewing a passport or replacing an existing child’s passport with an adult one may make their application before the existing passport expires. Up to 9 months’ unexpired validity from the old passport may be credited to the new one.

UK Children’s Passports

The rules on children and passports have recently changed. Previously children could be included on a parent’s passport. However, now any child up to the age of 16 not already on a parent’s passport must have their own. A child passport usually lasts for five years and the holder may continue to use it after they have reached the age of 16 and until the passport expires.

The Application Form for UK Passports

The application form for UK passports can be collected from selected Post Offices or ordered online from the IPS website or via their telephone advice line. UK residents may also apply online through the website. However, forms cannot be downloaded because home printing equipment does not produce documents of a high enough resolution to be read by the IPS scanning equipment. In addition there would be a greater risk of fraudulent applications if the whole process could be carried out online.

The application form comes with detailed instructions which should be followed carefully. The form should be completed in black ballpoint pen. Any sections which are not relevant to the applicant should simply be left blank.

The application form will also have to be countersigned by a British or Irish passport holder over the age of 18 who has a recognised profession or is otherwise of good standing. This person must have known the applicant for at least two years but must not be related to them or live at the same address. This person will also have to sign the applicant’s photograph and confirm that it is a true likeness. The IPS website has a complete list of those who may countersign passport applications.

Passport Interviews

Almost all applicants aged 16 and over for a first British adult passport will now have to attend a passport interview. Interviews have been introduced to verify the identity of the applicant and to reduce the level of passport related fraud.

All applicants who have to attend a UK passport interview will be sent a letter, after their application form has been processed, asking them to contact the IPS to arrange an interview. Interviews take about 30 minutes and are held at one of 68 interview offices located around the UK. Applicants will be asked to verify personal information which would only be known by the individual applying for the UK passport.

Fees and Waiting Times

Some Post Offices offer a “Check & Send” service. For an additional fee they will go through passport applications, ensure all the necessary documents are included and send the application to the Identity and Passport Service. Applications for renewal passports sent in via this service should be processed within about two weeks. However, the waiting time for first passports is still about six weeks.

The fee for a first British adult passport is currently £72. The same fee applies to standard applications for renewals, amendments or replacements of existing passports. A fast track one-week service is also available for £97. A premium same-day service for renewals or amendments only is available for £114. The fast track and premium services are only available by appointment at a passport office counter and are not available to UK citizens applying for a first adult passport.

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[Add a Comment]
@Reinz - if you have Permanent Residency in the UK, any child of yours born in the UK will be a British citizen and entitled to a British passport. You can apply after receiving a birth certificate using the procedure on the govuk website
TJ. - 17-Oct-18 @ 4:40 AM
I’m 37 weeks pregnant and I am an Indian passport holder residing in UK since 2009 as dependent and have a PR valid until 2025. Where as my husband is portuguese passport holder residing in UK since 2014. Will our child be eligible for British passport? If yes how do I proceed with the application
Reniz - 16-Oct-18 @ 8:36 PM
@JAM - Her baby can only apply for a British passport if your daughter was born or naturalized in the UK.
TJ. - 8-Oct-18 @ 1:38 PM
My daughter has a UK passport, married an Australian 3yrs ago, & lives with him in Australia. She had a baby (now aged 21months) who was born in Australia. Can the baby get a British Passport?
JAM - 7-Oct-18 @ 10:57 PM
@Celia - An emergency travel document cannot be issued to someone who has never had a British passport. Applying for a first British passport from within the UK takes at least 3 weeks and from outside the UK at least 14 weeks.
TJ. - 9-Sep-18 @ 11:18 PM
Hiya My brother is due to get his citizenship shortly and I'm wondering if he can get his first uk passport any quicker than the stated 14 weeks?Is it likely he can get emergency travel documents or do they only issue them in exceptional circumstances
Celia - 9-Sep-18 @ 6:08 PM
@Mr T - You can only apply for British citizenship at least 10 years after committing an immigration offence which includes lying on an application and when you reapply you will have to pay the full fee.
TJ. - 9-Sep-18 @ 10:23 AM
Hi there, I have been in England since 2001. I have applied for British citizenship in 2012. I was rejected because I didn't declare my conviction as this event happened during the last few weeks of the process. However my fee's of £950 were taken, I then made another application cost. £300 for perminant residency and was successful. But now has been 6 years since I got rejected. Is there a way of speeding the process? I have completed a university degree and working towards becoming a charted Surveyor so I have been shown good character living in the UK. I really need my citizenship and I feel like I shouldn't pay for another application, because my fees have exceeded £1500 without any outcome. or do I have no choice but to pay for application an wait for another 4 years to re-apply for citizenship.
Mr T - 9-Sep-18 @ 2:30 AM
@Sema - You are not eligible for British citizenship because your parents were not British citizens when you were born. Once you have lived in the UK LEGALLY for at least 10 years you can apply for Permanent Residency in the UK and once you have held this status for one year you can apply for British citizenship.
TJ. - 28-Aug-18 @ 9:45 PM
Hi, I'm a 25 year old Nigerian that was born in the UK. At the time of my birth, my parents were in the UK for work on a work visa. We moved back to Nigeria when I was 2 and in 2014 I moved back to the UK for Uni. I would like to settle here after as I am currently on a tier 4 student Visa. Essentially the end date of my course is Sept 2021. Forward thinking as I am, I just want to ask on here if there is any way I might be eligible for British citizenship. I know there are a lot of laws and it is all quite overwhelming. Please help
Sema - 28-Aug-18 @ 4:34 PM
@Kaiser - Only British citizens can apply for a British passport. Your partner needs to apply for British citizenship first
TJ. - 19-Aug-18 @ 3:33 PM
my partner is lithuanian and been living in the UK for 6 years now, is she eligible to simply apply for a passport??
kaiser - 19-Aug-18 @ 1:35 PM
@MARE - The UK government has guaranteed the rights of EU citizens to enter the UK without restriction until June 2021, whether or not there is a deal on Brexit.
TJ. - 10-Aug-18 @ 11:02 AM
Follow up to previous response from TJ. As you rightly say my son's wire and family are EU citizens so can live in the UK without restrictions but what happens after March next year when the UK leaves the EU. It is not possible for them to join him to live permanently in the UK until after then. Thanks
MARE - 10-Aug-18 @ 5:52 AM
@MARE - His wife and children are EU citizens therefore can live in the UK without any restrictions. Did your son ever live in the UK for at least 3 years before the children were born? If yes, he can register them as British citizens using the MN1 form under section 3(2) before they turn 18. If not they will have to live in the UK at least three years as a family before they turn 18 or they will permanently lose their entitlement to British citizenship.
TJ. - 7-Aug-18 @ 8:02 PM
@TJ thanks for your feedback. This is what I had thought however it seems crazy that they are not British citizens given that their father is and is serving in HM Armed services. It was not my son's fault he wasn't born in the UK because we were working abroad. An additional question is would they and their mother be entitled to automatically join their father in the UK. Also because of the nature of his job he could be posted overseas which could mean that they would not be hear for three years.
MARE - 7-Aug-18 @ 1:12 PM
@MARE - Unfortunately because your son was born outside the UK and is British by descent, your grandchildren are not entitled to British passports if they were also born outside the UK because they are not British citizens. Once they have lived in the UK with both parents for at least three years with minimal absences, the children will be entitled to apply to register as British citizens using the MN1 form under section 3(5) before they turn 18 which will make them British citizens not by descent. Once they become British citizens they will be able to apply for British passports.
TJ. - 7-Aug-18 @ 11:45 AM
My husband and I are both British citizens not by descent (family has always been in the UK and family tree goes back to 1600s). My son was born in Belgium in 1988, as we were working there at the time, and has a British passport as a British citizen. He lived in Belgium until end last year and married a Swiss/French National (has both passports) and has two children (2yrs and 3yrs of age) who were born in Belgium and have automatically been given Belgian nationality. My son is now in the Royal Navy and living in the UK - the rest of the family have not yet joined him. Are the children eligible for British Passports and British birth certificates.
MARE - 7-Aug-18 @ 9:15 AM
Hi I'm looking for help on behalf of my brother in law ! He is a British Pakistani and was born in Britain he married in Pakistan just over a year ago and he's wife gave birth 6 months ago to his beautiful son ! He's now back in the UK busy working for his family however he would like to bring his child over here so here are what we don't quite know very well and any answers guidance etc will be extremely appreciated * is his son a British citezan ? *can he apply for a normal British passport or does it have to be overseas * does his child need a visa for the UK? Please help
Pleasehelp - 27-Jul-18 @ 12:16 AM
My Bulgarian friend wishes to buy a British passport for her 10year old son. They’ve lived here since 2015. Can I have advice on the cost of this please, and any other advice necessarily. Thankyou.
Kt - 20-Jun-18 @ 6:52 PM
@Andy - Your child is not entitled to a British passport if neither parent was a British citizen at the time of his birth
TJ. - 25-May-18 @ 1:50 PM
My child who is now an adult was born in England in 1997 to Nigerian parents. After one year we returned back to Nigeria. Is he entitled or can he getBritish passport with his birth certificate?
Andy - 24-May-18 @ 9:30 PM
@Edita - Only British citizens can apply for a British passport. Is your daughter a British citizen?
TJ. - 10-May-18 @ 6:02 AM
Hi,can i get British passport for my daughter,if i came in UK in 2012 and my daughter born in 2014?thank you
Edita - 9-May-18 @ 7:55 PM
Hi, I would like to know as a Britishcitizen, I have due nationality since 2004 when I married a British man , my question is if my nephew 16 years old could come to study in England under my passport, are we allowed to apply for a visa under my British citizen for him ?
Sandra - 28-Apr-18 @ 11:44 AM
Sandy - Your Question:
Hi. I came to the uk on spouse visa 15 years ago and I have indefinite leave to remain in uk. I have indian passport which is expiring in 6 months. Can I apply for british passport now. Do I have to have british citizenship or I can apply straight away. How much that be cost

Our Response:
You can see more via the link here, which should help answer your question.
AboutImmigration - 17-Apr-18 @ 12:38 PM
@Sandy - Only British citizens can apply for a British passport so you cannot apply for a British passport. To apply for British citizenship, will cost you more than £2k in total
TJ. - 17-Apr-18 @ 7:25 AM
Hi. I came to the uk on spouse visa 15 years ago and i have indefinite leave to remain in uk. I have indian passport which is expiring in 6 months. Can i apply for british passport now. Do i have to have british citizenship or i can apply straight away. How much that be cost
Sandy - 16-Apr-18 @ 9:09 PM
@Sab - only British citizens can apply for a British passport. Once your wife becomes a British citizen you may apply for British citizenship for your children.
TJ. - 14-Apr-18 @ 6:01 AM
Hi,my kids born in Pakistan, At the time of their birth i had indefinite stay(visa) on my passport, one bornin 2008 and the lil one in 2011, i got my British passport in 2013. I sponsored my two kids and my wife on spouse(settlement) visa in 2015 since then they are with me here in uk. I am wondering that if i can apply for their British passport as two solicitor told me that you can apply for their British passport?
Sab - 13-Apr-18 @ 2:51 PM
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