How to Apply for a Baby’s First British Passport

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In all the preparation that comes before having a baby, many end up scrambling right before a holiday to get their baby’s first passport in the UK. Luckily, it’s a straightforward process and we’ve been through it twice with my young boys. So before you look into those Avios redemption flights as a family, get that passport application underway. Even though I mention a baby, these rules apply to any child under 16’s first passport.

My son having his passport photos taken at 5 days old and the results. (Photo by Kathleen Porter Kristiansen)

What You Need for Your Baby’s First Passport

The Application

You can apply online via the UK government’s website or obtain a paper form from a post office that you post, submit through the ‘check and send’ service at a post office or attend an in-person appointment in London. Someone with parental responsibility must sign the form and, if the child is between 12 and 15, he or she must sign it as well.

Supplemental Documents

First of all, you need a birth certificate. When you register the birth (based on the location of the hospital), make sure to ask for an additional copy of the long form birth certificate for your passport application.

You need to prove the baby’s entitlement to British nationality, which is typically through one or both parents having a British passport or Indefinite Leave to Remain. Usually the adult needs to send in his or her passport. Surrogacy, adoption and children born outside of the UK but entitled to British nationality have additional documentation required.

The Photo

For a paper application, you need the old fashioned passport photos. We had both of our boys’ photos taken at Snappy Snaps.

Printed photo requirements:

  • Two identical photos
  • 45mm high by 35mm wide (standard UK size)
  • Not be cut from a larger picture.

When applying online, you need a digital photo. You can pay to have a digital copy of the passport photos at a Snappy Snaps or similar photo store for use for the baby’s passport or they can provide a code to use directly on the application. They are well versed in the government’s passport requirements. I’ve heard of people taking their own baby passport photos as well as people taking a photo of a printed passport photo, which can be approved if it otherwise meets the criteria below.

Digital photo requirements: clear and in focus; in colour; unedited; at least 600 pixels wide and 750 pixels tall; at least 50KB and no more than 10MB.

In either the digital or printed photos, the baby must:

  • Be facing forwards
  • Have eyes open and visible (children under one do not have to have eyes open)
  • Not have anything covering his or her face (no pacifier or toys)
  • Not have any shadows on your face or behind you
  • You can support their head with your hand, but the hand cannot be visible.
Photo courtesy of Gov.uk.

The Fee

If you apply online, the fee is £49, whereas the fee to apply by the paper form is £58.50. It is an extra £10 if you would like a larger 50-page (rather than 34-page) passport for your frequently travelling baby.

If you want your documents sent back via secure delivery, it is an extra £5.

Other Bits to Know

Confirming the Identity of the Baby’s Photo

You’ll need a friend to agree to confirm the identity of your baby who fits within the UK Government’s guidance. Notably, the person must be over 18, live in the UK, known you (the parent) for at least two years in a personal capacity and have a current UK passport. Additionally, the person must work in what the government calls a ‘recognised profession’ such as an accountant, solicitor, doctor, nurse, pharmacist, journalist, minister or police officer. We had a friend who is an architect sign ours and it was approved. However, another time we had a civil servant friend on maternity leave sign it and they could not reach her so it was sent back. You cannot be related to the person confirming the identity or live together.

If it is an online application, the person will get an email from HM Passport Office. If mailing in an application, the physical photos are signed on the back with ‘I certify that this is a true likeness of [full name of child who is getting the passport]’.

Post Office Check and Send

It is surprisingly easy to make a mistake on your passport application and have it rejected. The Post Office offers a service called Check and Send that costs £9.70 for a paper application. The digital version is currently only offered for renewals of adult passports. You bring your baby’s completed passport application into the post office and they see if you’ve filled things properly, check your photos will be approved and have the correct supplementary documentation. With my oldest son’s first passport application, my signature accidentally touched the signature box and the post office employee was able to tell me it would be rejected by Her Majesty’s Passport Office. Once approved by ‘check and send’, they post it off and the government claims it is faster than if you post your own application.

Fast Track

What if you can’t wait up to three weeks for baby’s first passport or need a guarantee? There is a one-week fast track service for an additional £122. You will need to book an appointment and attend in London near Victoria Station. You can only apply via the paper application from a post office. During the appointment, you bring your completed application, photos and supporting documentation and will get your baby’s passport returned within a week of the appointment.

Bottom Line

It can be a bit daunting to apply for your child’s first passport and wade through the government’s vast amount of information. However, with the online application, it is much more streamlined and soon, you can be preparing for the fun stuff like flying with your baby and the less fun things like baby jet lag.

Featured photo by LightFieldStudios / Getty Images.

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