Who can countersign a passport application, what are the photo rules, when do I need to renew and does my child need one? | The Sun02/04/2023
WHEN deciding to jet off to an international destination of your choice, the first thing to do is to make sure you have a valid passport.
Whether you need a brand new passport or you need to renew your current one – there are a number of important steps to take.
When do I need someone to countersign a passport form?
According to the government website: ''some paper passport applications and photos must be signed by someone else (the ‘countersignatory’) to prove the identity of the person applying.''
You must get your paper form and one of your two print photographs signed if you're applying for one of the following.
- first adult passport
- first child passport
- replacement for a lost, stolen, or damaged passport
- renewal of a passport for a child aged 11 or under
- renewal of a passport if your appearance has changed and you can’t be recognised from your existing passport
Who can countersign a passport form?
Any prospective countersignatory must meet certain criteria.
- They must have known the person applying (or the adult who signed the form if the passport is for a child under 16) for at least 2 years
- They must be able to identify the person applying such as being a friend, neighbour, or colleague (not just someone who knows them professionally)
- They must be “a person of good standing in their community” or work in (or be retired from) a recognised profession – for example, an accountant, a nurse, or a social worker
- They can’t be closely related by birth or marriage to the person applying
- They can’t be in a relationship with or live at the same address as the person applying
- If you're applying in the UK, your countersignatory must live in the UK and have a current British or Irish passport
- If you're applying outside the UK, your countersignatory must have a current British, Irish, EU, US, or Commonwealth passport
Those countersigning passports can also do this process online. They will receive an email from the HM Passport Office to do this.
Your countersignatory must also put their passport number on the form.
When signing a countersigning for a passport, the person responsible should write the following on the back of one photo.
''I certify that this is a true likeness of [title and full name of adult or child who is getting the passport].''
They must then add their signature and the date under the statement.
You do not have to sign or date the photos yourself.
When do I need to renew my passport?
You require a valid passport to travel virtually anywhere abroad with the exception of the Republic of Ireland.
In addition to the passport being valid, many but not all countries, require the document to be valid for a set period of time.
How much time you need on your passport depends on the country you’re visiting.
You can check the entry requirements for your destination of choice here.
If you need to renew your passport you can do this online for the price of It costs £82.50.
If you're filling out an application online you will need the following.
- A digital photo
- A credit or debit card
- Your current passport
Alternatively, you can renew your passport using a paper application if you prefer – however, it will cost more to do so. The price of a renewal via a paper application will cost £93. You can get a paper application one of two ways.
- Going to a Post Office that has a Check and Send service
- Calling the Passport Adviceline
You can pay by either:
- Debit or credit card – fill in the form in the application pack
- Cheque – made payable to ‘HM Passport Office’
What are the photo rules for passports?
The rules regarding passport photos must be followed correctly to avoid an application being refused or delayed.
The rules state you need two identical photos if you apply via a paper form.
If you are choosing to apply online, you will need digital photos instead.
If you're applying for a new passport you are required to send off a new photo – even if you're appearance has not changed, as the photographic evidence must have been taken in the last month.
Both pictures must show your full head and upper shoulders, containing no other objects or people.
In the photo, you must be in clear contrast to the background, have your mouth closed with a plain expression and not have your hair in front of your eyes.
You must also make sure the picture is perfectly clear and there is no 'red eye' showing – this happens when the flash of a camera lights up the blood-rich retina.
Your head must also be uncovered unless there is a religious reason for a head covering, and not have anything covering your face.
Those applying are also advised to not wear glasses when taking photos unless they have to.
If you require glasses when taking the images, they cannot be sunglasses or tinted glasses.
You must also make sure your eyes are not covered by the frames or any glare, reflection, or shadow.
The picture must measure 45mm high by 35mm wide (the standard size used in photo booths in the UK) and not be a cut down version of a larger picture.
They must be printed to a professional standard, clear and in focus, unaltered by computer software, and in colour on plain white photographic paper with no border.
If you attach creased or torn photographs with your paper application, this could lead to delays.
Does my child need a passport?
Yes, children require their own passport for international travel regardless of their age.
Someone with parental responsibility for the child must apply for the passport.
If a child is under 12 you must sign all their forms but if they are 12-15, they must also sign a portion of the form.
They will also need a countersignatory to verify their identity. When your child reaches 16 they should apply for a full adult passport.
When it comes to taking photographs for a child's passport, children must be on their own in the picture.
Babies must not be holding toys or using dummies.
Children under six do not have to be looking directly at the camera or have a plain expression.
Children under one do not have to have their eyes open. However, you can support their head with your hand, but your hand must not be visible in the photo.
It costs £53.50 to apply online and £64 to apply with a paper form from the Post Office.
Once approved, a child's passport will be valid for five years.
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