Getting your child’s first passport

Getting your child’s first passport? Travel blogger, Cathy Winston share her top tips for getting it right first time.

Whether you’re ready to start travelling as soon as possible after giving birth or prefer to wait a few years before heading abroad, at some point you’ll need to apply for a child passport. Here’s my top tips on getting the forms right.

1. Get a professional

While adults can head to the nearest photo booth and hope for the best, that’s not an option for babies or young children. Save yourself the hassle of trying to meet the exact requirements as high street chains like Snappy Snaps know what’s needed, and will even airbrush out arms and hands supporting babies. Thankfully, children under one don’t need to have their eyes open and children under five don’t have to be looking directly at the camera or have a neutral expression, as adults do.

2. Check you’re eligible to apply

While a child’s mother can apply for a child’s passport, in most cases the father can only do so if he is or was married to the mother.

3. Use your neatest handwriting

The applications are checked by computer in the first instance, so if you go outside the boxes, your application will probably be turned down simply because the machine can’t read it properly. And always use black ink for the same reason.

4. Find someone to countersign the application

The person who countersigns your child’s passport application needs to have a current British or Irish passport, live in the UK and have known you (not your child) for at least two years. Anyone related by marriage or birth, or in a close relationship is barred, plus they have to work in a recognised profession or be ‘a person of good standing in their community’.

5. Make sure they also sign one of the photos

They will also need to write ‘I certify that this is a true likeness of [title and full name of child]’ as well as signing and dating it, so warn them to write small.

6. Bring your supporting documents

For a first child passport, you need the long birth certificate rather than the short one. You may not have been given this automatically when the birth was registered, so check with your local register office if you need a copy. There are separate rules for adopted children.

7. Be sure to get them back safely

Birth certificates or other original documents will be sent back in ordinary second class post if you don’t pay the extra £3 charge for it to be returned by secure mail.

8. Don’t leave it until the last minute!

Always best when it comes to passports, but while adults can pay extra for a one-day premium service, this isn’t available for children although there is a one-week fast track option for an extra charge.

9. Get an expert to check it

Although you don’t have to use the Post Office’s Check & Send service, it can be worth paying the extra (currently £8.75) to have them make sure there are no obvious errors. It might not save money, but it could save time… which beats your application being returned and having to cancel that first holiday away as a family.

For more tips, check the rules on the government website.

For more information about Cathy see her authors profile here +Cathy Winston
Photo: Jed Sundwall @ Flickr

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