Brave or stupid, we’re still not sure, but what is certain is that our summer holiday is now booked, complete with a ten hour flight and three-month old baby who needs a passport. What could go wrong?
Although there are plenty of pitfalls to negotiate when travelling with a new born, this article is focused on tackling the admin ball ache of applying for a children’s passport. It’s a necessary evil when travelling outside the UK with your bundle of joy as since 1998, children need their own passport and cannot be included on their parents or guardians.
In my experience anything to do with official government paper work is more complicated than it needs to be so I wasn’t looking forward to the application process. I’m sure you’re feeling the same so I hope that reading about how I went about it will be helpful.
1. Register the birth
You cannot apply for a passport without a birth certificate so get down to the registry office quickly to register the birth of your little one. Remember you are legally obliged to register your baby’s birth in under 42 days so don’t delay too long. Choosing a name can be difficult though so read my other article about naming your baby here.
2. Get an application form
2. You need a registration form that can either be downloaded online from the GOV.uk site (search ‘Get a passport for your child’) or collected from your local post office. If you are collecting a paper form from the post office pick up two copies as its inevitable you’ll make a mistake and need to start again!
3. Complete the application form
Complete the form carefully in black ink; it’s not straight forward if you don’t pay attention! Follow the instructions and use the guidance notes available from the post office to help you navigate the form and answer your questions. You probably don’t need to fill out every section so read the question twice before starting to write, just like you were told during school exams.
5. Take two passport photos
The passport application requires two passport photos of your baby so decide if you fancy the challenge of taking photos yourself or paying a professional instead. For those brave enough to try themselves I’d recommend reading my top tips for taking a successful baby passport photo. I was successful in taking my own so why not give it a go and save some cash too!
6. Get the photos countersigned
Get the photos signed and dated by a counter-signatory. This person must include the statement below on the reserve of the print. This cant be a family member or living at the same address so you’ll need to find a ‘professional’ friend who meets the criteria.
“I certify that this is a true likeness of (insert name)”
7. Apply online or in the Post Office
Now you have a completed form, birth certificate and signed photo you are ready to apply. It will cost you £46 to apply online or by post. However, I chose to use the useful check and send service available at most post offices where they double check everything for an extra £10 so you don’t get rejected on a technicality. Well worth the money in my opinion!
Other hints and tips
My final practical dad tip is to include a letter from your wife or partner. If you are applying for the passport using your details and not hers, this will confirm she gives consent for you to do so. The post office man told me there have been cases recently where fathers have registered for passports without the mother knowing before taking the child overseas. Despite having my wife with me at the time he advised it was a good idea to enclose the letter anyway so we obliged. It is a sad state of affairs that this is even an issue but worth being aware of, even down here in Dorset.
Wait for you passport to arrive
Now it’s time to sit and wait, but don’t get ahead of yourself as the passport office warns it can take up to six weeks. If you’ve made a mistake its back to the start, do not pass go, and do not collect £200. We were lucky though and only ten days after using the post office check and send service, baby M’s first passport arrived through the letter box!
So little a month after he was born, baby M has his very own passport and is ready for holidays. It does make me laugh they are valid for five year which means he will look nothing like the photo in a couple of years. But if that’s what it takes to wet his appetite for travelling from an early age then so be it.
Good luck with your application and please leave comments below if there is anything I’ve missed you think is worth sharing with other practical dads.