Depending on how close your baby is born to your holiday date, it is sensible to apply for their first passport in plenty of time. Typically, it takes 3 weeks to get a passport – if urgent there is also a fast-track service you can use.
It is important to go to the official Identity & Passport Service website (see link www.gov.uk/get-a-child-passport). Other ‘unofficial’ websites may appear on google search due to advertising. However, despite claiming they can help you through the application process this usually comes at and additional cost.
The online form is pretty straight forward. Requiring standard information about yourself, your partner and your new bundle of joy. The form is then processed by the Identity and Passport Service, printed and then sent back to you to finish. This includes counter-signing and attaching your relevant ID and photos. Normally, it takes around a week for the initial online form to be mailed back to you.
Note: There is also a chance for you to rectify any mistakes you’ve made when filling out the online form.
How to take baby’s passport photo:
It may seem like an impossible task, to get your new-born baby looking at the camera with no arms or toys in the way. To read through the official Identity and Passport Service photo requirements see link www.gov.uk/photos-for-passports.
You can take the photo one of two ways:
- Go to your local, professional passport photo provider such as Boots, Snappy Snaps etc. and they will take your baby’s passport photo.
- Do it yourselves, at home. Create DIY a backdrop by laying your baby on the floor with an off white sheet underneath them.
How to get your baby’s passport photo perfect:
- If taking the photo with your baby on a white sheet as mentioned above, it’s important to remove any creases.
- The baby’s head and BOTH ears have to be in shot.
- Arms need to be away from the head area.
- Babies must not be holding toys or using dummies.
- Take the photo from about 1.5m away and include your baby from about their tummy upwards.
- There must be a space above the baby’s head in the photo.
Note: If your baby is less than 1-year-old they do not need to have their eyes open.
You can then upload you pictures online and get them printed. There are numerous websites that offer a printing service such as Frame Lizard and Snappy Snaps.
How much will it cost:
It costs £46 to get a child’s first passport or £55.75 if you use the Check and Send service. You can also pay an additional £3 for your ID to be returned via secure post. You must pay by credit or debit card if you fill in the form online.
If you fill in a paper application form, you can either send your credit or debit card details or alternatively include a cheque or postal order payable to ‘Her Majesty’s Passport Office’.
After you have taken your passport photos and had them printed you will need someone to counter sign them. Here are official details regarding your countersignatory www.gov.uk/countersigning-passport-applications.
Note: The person counter signing the photos needs to supply their passport number too.
When sending off your complete application and necessary documents make sure you include a certified copy of the birth certificate with you and your partners name and occupation on it rather than a copy with just your baby’s details on it. This isn’t made particularly clear in the documentation sent by the Identity & Passport service.
How to travel abroad with a child whose surname is different from yours:
As a precaution against child abduction, if you are travelling abroad with a child and you are not that child’s parent, or if you and the child have different surnames, you may need to bring extra documents with you to establish your relationship.
Although not compulsory (see below for exceptions) carrying certain documents or evidence can speed up the process at boarder control.
According to the Home Office, examples of evidence would include:
- a copy of a birth or adoption certificate showing your relationship with the child
- divorce or marriage certificates if you are the parent but have a different surname.
- a letter from one or both of the child’s parents, with contact details, giving consent for the child to travel with you (even if, for example, you are a grandparent and have the same surname).
Note: Full details of regulations that apply at the UK border are on the UK Border Agency website, ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk
It could also be beneficial to contact the airline you are flying with to seek advice.
Letters of authority or consent
If you are travelling with children and are not their parent, it may be wise to bring a letter of consent from the child’s parents. Once again, while a letter is not compulsory, it can simplify interviews at boarder control. The letter will include consent from the child’s parents stating that the child has permission to travel abroad with the person accompanying them.
Be mindful that carrying a consent letter may not guarantee that the child will be allowed to travel abroad; every country has its own requirements for children travelling without their parent(s).
Make sure to check the specific requirements of the country to which you are travelling (Full list of foreign embassies in the UK).
Note: Visit the Home Office website for a letter template to follow. It is also imperative to sign the letter, and get it witnessed by a solicitor.
Special requirements of specific countries
South Africa has explicit requirements for parents travelling there with minors. For full details of requirements for travel to South Africa, please see www.home-affairs.gov.za/index.php/civic-services/traveling-with-children.
Botswana has now adopted similar rules when travelling with children. See full requirements https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/botswana/entry-requirements.
The USA requires children under the age of 18 travelling to or from the USA to carry a notarized consent letter from their parents or legal guardians.
Canada requires the same consent documents as the US for children under the age of 19.
- If a child or teenager is travelling with only one parent or guardian, a notarized consent letter from the parent/guardian who is not travelling with them is required.
- If a parent/legal guardian has sole custody, then proof of sole custody must be presented.
Children and teenagers who cannot produce proper consent letters may be refused boarding.
Note: it’s your job to establish the latest requirements.
While many airlines remind make you aware of certain destinations’ specific requirements, they are not obliged to. It is the passenger’s responsibility to find out about current entry and exit requirements and to carry the appropriate documents with them.Rebecca Patterson