Children’s passports: what you need to know
A child’s first passport and any renewal after that will cost £49 if you apply online, or £58.50 to apply with a form from the Post Office. I seem to remember needing to practically be able to trace my family tree back seventeen generations when we applied for our kids’ passports in advance of their first holiday abroad! I may be exaggerating but only slightly- we needed to send all sorts of things – birth certificates for the kids, our details as their parents and then also the full name, town, country of birth and date of marriage of your mother’s or parents (the kids’ grandmothers) parents and your father’s (their grandfathers) details. Seriously long-winded but necessary.
What worried me was sending all the original documents off – and to minimise the risk of them not coming back I made sure that we paid the extra £5 for a secure delivery. Later in the year we got their passports the process went online as an option, and I definitely would have done this if it were an option as it’s also cheaper. Children’s passports are valid for 5 years.
Despite the paperwork and research into your parents marriages etc (double hard as both ours are divorced) the hardest thing was making sure the passport photos would be accepted. We toyed with the idea of trying it ourselves in a photo boot – but as Arlo was only about 5 months old at the time we found a local photographer who has a private studio and knows exactly what is required for a photo to be accepted and she got them in one take – phew!
A few of the stringent rules for adult photos have been relaxed for kids – they are allowed to smile for example unlike adults! But they must not be wearing glasses, have a dummy or have an adult in the picture with them, even a supporting arm! Then once printed you need to double check the size of the face within the photo! From the top of the head to the chin must measure between 29mm and 34mm high – get your ruler out!
Once you’re happy with your paperwork and your photo you need to get ONE copy of the photo validated by someone in ‘authority’ who has known the child or the parent of the child for at least two years, and more importantly can recognise them from their photo! It’s important too for the passport office to be able to reach the person who countersigned the photos for clarification – so don’t ask anyone who’s about to jet off on holiday themselves! I signed quite a few of these for employees when I was a ‘license of a public house’ and did get a couple of calls back to make sure I had actually signed the photo and knew the person! If you’re unsure of who to ask to be your counter-signatory then call the Passport Office Customer Services for guidance – better to get it right the first time!
Once you’ve applied, paid the fee and crossed your fingers you can expect to be waiting up to 3 weeks for your new passports to arrive – though it is often less in quieter periods!