Once you have found a holiday you want the whole family to enjoy, booked all relevant tickets and begun picking out the family’s new summer wardrobe, there is only one thing left to do – make sure you have everyone’s passport. Whilst renewing your own passport is relatively easy, applying for your child’s first passport can be a little different, especially when it comes to getting a photo! There are a few rules and documentation that you need when applying, so below is a quick guide to ensure that you get your child’s first passport in time for a holiday.
How to Apply
Applying for a passport can take a while so it is best to get this sorted a few months before your holiday, just in case you run into any hitches along the way. The passport offices nationwide. To name a few for example would be Durham, London, Glasgow, Newport and more. They offer both urgent passport and fast track passport appointments for those who have booked a last-minute family holiday. This means you do not have to worry about a thing when you contact an independent advisor for the Durham passport office for example and you can book an appointment online or via phone.
If you have a lot of time available, there is no need to go down this route. Instead, you can apply via the government website. You must have documentation that can prove your child’s eligibility for a British national passport. You must also have full parental responsibility for your child and both parents need to fill in their details on the form. If for any reason you cannot give both details, you must attach a letter with a reason for this when sending any documents. A child passport will last for just five years. You can apply online or visit your local Post Office, who may be part of the passport scheme.
What do I Need?
To complete your child’s passport documentation, you will need several items. As with every passport, you need to have two passport photos. This can be a difficult procedure in itself and we have some top tips below for getting your child’s first passport photo, especially if they are too young to understand how to sit still! You will also be required to send off their full birth certificate, or adoption certificate if your child is adopted.
You will also need to provide some form of your child’s nationality, a passport if your child has one from a previous country, and if needed, any court orders with details of which parent has parental responsibility. Whilst this may seem like a lot of documentation for a child’s passport, it is for the safety of your child and helps the government reduce any safeguarding concerns for children. The documentation must be sent to the relevant passport office and needs to be original copies only. This means you should send them via the Post Office and ensure you get them tracked so that you can track them whilst they go, and the passport office will do the same on the way back for a small charge. Failure to do so may result in loss of documentation, although this is rare.
What is The Cost?
The cost of getting your child’s passport depends on many things, including how you apply, how you send your documentation, and if you pay for passport photos. If your child is under 16 years of age and needs a regular 34-page passport, applying online will cost just £49 and applying in paper form will cost £58.50. If you want to save money and time, it is best to apply online as this saves paper and is a much more streamlined approach to applying. If your child needs a 50-page passport, the cost is £10 more for each service. If your child is over 16, they are classed as an adult.
You then must add on to this any additional charges such as sending documentation via the Post Office. This needs to be done whether you apply online or via paper. You must pay an additional charge if you want your documentation sent back to you securely rather than second class. Most Post Offices offer a check and send service in which they will check through your passport documentation and ensure everything is in full order and no boxes have been missed. This could save you some time if you are unsure if you have completed the documentation correctly.
How Long Does It Take?
Again, this depends on many factors, including whether you have filled in the documentation right and if you choose to go through a fast track service. On average, a passport takes three weeks from application to receiving the passport in the post. Whilst this is an average time, it could take a shorter time, or it may take longer, even if all the documentation is correct. During busy periods, there are a lot more passports being requested, so it could take a lot longer.
First Passport Photo Tips
This is one of the most difficult parts of the whole passport experience with children, especially if they hate to sit still or they are very tiny still! Unless your child is old enough and trusted enough to sit in a photo booth, using a professional photographer could save you some time and ensure that your photo gets accepted the first time. The easy approach is using a photograph booth, and these can be found at Post Offices, chemists, or supermarkets. If you need a professional photographer, look locally for one. These guys know what they are doing and whether a passport photo will pass or not.
If you have a good smartphone you can try and do this yourself at home and there are many apps that you can download that have passport options. These can then be sent via post to you so that you can then send them to the passport office. There are particular rules regarding those under the age of six and those over the age of six. Even the government understands the difficulty of getting a passport photo for a baby, so they understand it isn’t always possible to have a perfect picture.
If you decide to have a go yourself, there are some basic rules to follow, which include babies under the age of one can have their eyes closed, the passport photo must have a light grey or cream background (using a sheet is an easy way to do this) and the child’s arms must be down, not around their head. There also needs to be some space above the head, the photo must consist of just the child, dummies or toys cannot be visible, and you can use your hand to support the head, but this cannot be visible within the photo. For those under the age of six, they don’t have to have a completely neutral expression and don’t have to be looking directly into the camera.
Once you have all of the correct documentation, you also need to find someone to countersign your child’s passport, just as with adults. This needs to be a professional such as a teacher, lawyer, or company director who knows both parents and the child, and this professional must have known the family for a minimum of two years.