Who can countersign a passport application, what are the photo rules, when do I need to renew and does my child need one?

TICKETS, money, passports the Holy Trinity of travel requirements that lead to people padding themselves down obsessively as they hurry to the airport.

While the first two on that list can be sorted relatively quickly, a new passport can be a bit of a hassle. Here's ways to be prepared.

When do I need someone to countersign a passport form?

Some passport application forms and photos need to be “countersigned” by somebody else to prove the identity of the person applying.

You will need to to get the form and one of the two photos signed if you’re applying for a:

  • 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.

These are:

  • 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 – examples of recognised professions are available here
  • 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

Those countersigning passports can also do this process online. They will receive an email from the HM Passport Office to do this.

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.

It is generally advised that a person renew their passport six months before it expires to avoid any surprises.

What are the photo rules for passports?

You need two identical photos for a passport application showing your full head and upper shoulders, contain no other objects.

In the photo you must be in clear contrast to the background, have your mouth closed in a neutral expression and not have your hair in front of your eyes.

Your head must be uncovered, unless there is a religious reason for a head covering, and not have anything covering your face

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.

You must get a new photo when you get a new passport, even if your appearance hasn’t changed.

Does my child need a passport?

Yes, kids require their own passport for international travel regardless of their age.

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.

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