How to get a second British passport

Feb 5, 2020

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Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional information. It was originally published on 31 May 2019.

Information on obtaining a second British passport is difficult to find. Her Majesty’s Passport Office has no official method of application, and nor does it advertise the fact that you can indeed hold two passports.

After going through this convoluted process myself, I wanted to share a step-by-step guide that may help you if you fall into one of the below categories and need a second passport. It should be noted that this is a completely separate passport with a new passport number and separate 10-year validity.

Who can apply?

For many people, a second passport is a necessity for several reasons, usually business-related. Here are some examples of reasons why you may need to apply for a second passport:

  • You are a very heavy traveller and need to send one passport off for visa applications whilst still travelling with a passport in hand.
  • You have a passport that contains stamps or visas that would prevent you from visiting certain countries (e.g. you have a passport with Israeli stamps but need to visit Lebanon).
  • You have no visa pages left in one passport but need to keep it due to the active visas it contains required for upcoming travels.

Where to apply

You can apply for passports online, by post or in person. Due to the nuances of applying for a second British passport, I have concentrated on a postal application, as online may not allow the best flexibility. And if you are a heavy traveller, being bound to an appointment in person is more difficult.

How to apply

1. Application form

First, collect a paper passport application form from the post office. Fill this out in full, and if this is your first application for a second passport, mark the box that states “Your First British Passport” — even though it isn’t.

If this is a replacement second passport, mark the “replacement” box.

In Section 8 “More information” box, state that this application is in respect of a second British passport for business reasons, and request the original passport is not cancelled. I wrote, “Do not cancel my existing passport“.

The form will need to be countersigned.

Fill in rest of the form like normal, paying careful attention to the guidance provided with the form.

2. Supporting documentation

You will need to include the following with your application:

  • A letter-headed note from your employer setting out the business reasons for needing a second passport, dated within four weeks of the application. See below for a draft letter.
  • Your existing passport. However, often this is not feasible, and in my case, I included a colour copy of every single page of my existing passport (including the front and back cover, and every visa page). You should include a note stating that this has been included instead of the full passport because you need it for current travel. I also included my original birth certificate.
  • New photos countersigned on the back.

3. The letter

I used the following copy, taken from the forum on Business Traveller, and it worked for me, so I would recommend following this format. I was informed by the Passport Office that a letter with the original signature must be sent.

To Whom it May Concern,

Second Passport Application

This is to confirm that [name] is employed by this company as [job title]. He/she has been employed by us since [date].

[Name] is a frequent traveller and is therefore in need of a second passport as we anticipate several company trips over the next few months. Several countries that [he/she] will be travelling to will require visas / do not allow and therefore we would request a second passport to expedite these while [he/she] is traveling.

Over the coming months and into next year, [he/she] might be required to travel to [adapt as appropriate] :

  • Israel – April 2019
  • Kenya – June 2019
  • Lebanon – August 2019
  • Qatar – September 2019
  • United Arab Emirates – October 2019
  • Iran – October 2019
  • Russian Federation – November 2019
  • Saudi Arabia – January 2020
  • Pakistan – January 2020
  • India – January 2020

We confirm that [he/she] will return his/her normal domicile at [home address] to resume employment with this company after this trip. Please assist [him/her] in obtaining a second passport allowing her to travel.

If you require any further information with regards to [his/her] employment with this company, please do not hesitate to contact me on the above number.

Yours sincerely,

[name] [title]

4. Fee

Remember to include the correct fee with your application. Passport fees vary, but you can check the latest here.

5. Wait

After posting the form, supporting documentation and fee, sit back and relax. I received a phone call from the Passport Office after a couple of weeks. Because I had sent a photocopy of the whole passport and not the original, they wanted more information on this.

I explained the situation over the phone, and they said it would be considered. Without fanfare around two weeks later, the passport arrived in the post.

How to get help

For any issues, concerns or questions, call the Passport Adviceline on 0300 222 0000. They are open Monday to Friday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and on weekends and public holidays from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. I would also advise calling them right before posting everything to check they are happy and that nothing has changed at their end.

I had a very positive experience on the phone with the helpline.

Renewals when you have two British passports

Don’t get caught out like I have in the past. It’s critical to remember that when you renew either of your two British passports, you must submit another letter explaining why you need two passports. I renewed my passport via the Post Office check and send service, but received a letter from HM Passport Office a week later requesting supporting documentation.

Bottom line

Applying for a second British passport is a convoluted process, but easily achievable by jumping through the hoops. Once secured, a second passport can prove invaluable to the heavy traveller.

Featured photo courtesy Getty Images.

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