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Passport Renewal from Outside the UK - Supporting Documents

If you are outside of the UK and your British passport has, or is due to, expire, you may be pleased to know you can apply online in any country. Gone are the days when you need to visit a local embassy and wait in a seemingly endless queue, or submit your application to a local passport office.

In this article, we will outline the application process and the supporting documents which the Home Office will accept before issuing a new passport.

How Do I Apply for a Passport Renewal from Outside of the UK?

To submit your application, simply visit the passport office website for overseas applications.

The process has now been made very straightforward and has three stages:

  • Get a digital passport photo (which must meet the standards required)
  • Complete the online application form and pay the application fee
  • Submit your passport and supporting documents

Alternatively, you can apply for an emergency passport if:

  • You are a British national
  • You are outside the UK
  • Your passport has been lost, stolen, damaged, is full, has recently expired or is with HM Passport Office or a foreign embassy
  • You do not have time to renew or replace your passport before you travel
  • You can provide proof of your travel plans, for example, booking confirmations (or detailed written travel plans if you cannot book ahead)

See the Home Office website for more details.

Which Documents do You Need to Submit to the UK Passport Office?

The golden rule when submitting your passport application is to ensure that you send all of the necessary documents. As the Home Office guidance states, “Your application will be delayed if you don’t include all your supporting documents. If we have to write to you for missing or additional documents, you’ll need to send them to us within six weeks. If you don’t, we will withdraw your application, and you won’t get a refund”.

The documents you need to send to the UK passport office to support your application depend on the type of application you are making. Thankfully, for a renewal application, the supporting documents needed are fairly minimal. You will need to send:

  • Your current British passport (the original, not a copy)
  • A full-colour copy of any other uncancelled passports relating to you
  • Your identity documents

There are a range of identity documents which can be provided. The Home Office requires that passport renewal applicants provide at least one document with photo identity; and

one document as evidence of name and address and/or residency within the last year. The list of documents which can be used are as follows:

  • Your British passport (if you are renewing)
  • Non-British uncancelled passport
  • National identity card or equivalent (or colour photocopy)
  • Visa or residence permit (or colour photocopy)
  • Tax record, e.g. a letter from a tax authority
  • Educational record, e.g. school report
  • Employment record, e.g. an official letter from your employer
  • Letter sent to you from a central, regional or local government department
  • Medical/health card
  • Voter’s card
  • Immigration documents

Are There any Additional Supporting Documents Required for Child Passport Renewals?

There are additional requirements for children but only in very specific circumstances. If the child applying is subject to a court order a) relating to their care or b) that provides or removes parental responsibility and rights or c) that limits the movement of the child from the country of residence, the court order must be provided to the passport office.

If the child is under the care of social services, then the Home Office requires a “letter from the Director of Social Services (or equivalent) confirming that social services has parental responsibility for the child and include any relevant court order(s) to support this”.

In circumstances whereby the person submitting the application does not have parental responsibility for the child who is the subject of the application, the Home Office states that it requires one of the following documents:

  • a statutory declaration explaining that you are acting in the place of a parent, explaining why and whether anyone with parental responsibility exists. You should include several pieces of documentary evidence which supports this, or
  • if you are a testamentary guardian, documentary evidence explaining that you have been appointed a testamentary guardian of the child, including a copy of the will and death certificate
  • confirm whether any other person holds parental responsibility and/or court orders are in place affecting the child. If court orders are in place, include these.

What are the passport photo rules?

Anyone who has ever applied for a passport will know, one of the more frustrating parts of the application process is ensuring your photo meets the strict requirements of the passport office. You can take the passport photo yourself, or have one taken by a passport photo service, but either way, you will need to check that it passes the requirements. The photo must:

  • be no more than one month old
  • be a colour digital image which can be uploaded
  • be in focus
  • measure 750 pixels high x 600 pixels wide
  • have a file size between 50KB and 10MB.
  • show your head-and-shoulders in front of a plain background (with no one else in the picture)
  • show your face towards the camera looking down the lens
  • show you with a straight face, mouth closed, and your eyes open they are clearly visible

You must not cover your face, including with your hair, cover your head except for religious or medical reasons, or wear sunglasses or tinted glasses. Those with ordinary glasses must ensure their eyes are clearly visible and that no glare or reflections are visible.

Final words

By taking the time to carefully submit your application online, verify your photo meets all of the requirements of the passport office, and that you provide the necessary supporting documents, you can expect to receive your passport in a timely manner. You should be aware, however, that there are currently delays due to COVID-19. For this reason, it is recommended that you submit your application as early as possible.

Related article

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