(Last updated on: 04/04/2020)
Have you been wondering how to apply for a baby passport? Having been through this twice in the past two years, I have this covered!
Baby Saya’s passport arrived just last week and we are super excited to be able to commence our travel adventures as a family of four!
With both of our children, one of the first things we did was apply for their baby passport. Whilst I didn’t record the exact day that we did this, I know that it was during my husband’s paternity leave- meaning that we applied for the babies passports before they were two weeks old!
Whilst applying for a baby passport might not be as high on your agenda as it was for us, it will probably be something that you want to do in first few months of their lives, particularly if you have any holidays planned!
As I have recently gone through the process of applying for a baby passport myself, I thought I would share with you what the process is and what to expect.
Do babies need passports in the UK?
Most people who live in the United Kingdom will have a passport, many of whom will get a passport as a baby or young child. Unlike in the USA, where you can travel domestically to a range of destination types, the UK is small and we often desire not only a change of scenery, but also a change of weather!
It is for this reason that most parents will get a baby passport during the first few months of their children’s lives. Whilst the process is fairly straight forward, it is important that you get it right, particularly if you have a trip planned soon after submitting your passport application!
You might also be interested in my post- ‘Top Five Destinations to Travel with a Baby‘
Where to apply for a passport
You can apply for your baby passport either online or by post.
I had recently applied for a new passport for myself using the online system and it was super easy, so I thought I would use the same system to apply for Saya’s baby passport. Applying for a child’s first passport, however, wasn’t so simple.
Whilst all of the forms were fine, it was the photo that was the issue. There are certain passport photo rules that don’t apply to infants, such as having your eyes open or looking directly at the camera. Unfortunately, the online passport system isn’t set up to differentiate between a baby and an adult passport when submitting a photograph to the automated checking system, causing it to reject your image. There is the option to bypass this and submit it anyway, but personally I wouldn’t risk it.
To complete a paper passport application, you can pick up a form at your local post office. You can’t make any mistakes (OK, well if you cross it out clearly and neatly you can, but again- I wouldn’t want to risk it being returned), so I would recommend that you take a couple of copies, just in case you need more than one.
The post office do offer a checking service for an additional fee. Personally, I am confident that I can check through the form myself, but if you want the extra piece of mind then this option is available to you at an additional cost. If you don’t use the post office’s checking service then you can pop your application straight into the post box.
Baby passport application form
The application form is relatively simple if both parents have British passports. If the parents do not have British passports they may need to provide additional information in order to apply for the baby passport.
The only part of the baby passport application form that I found a bit difficult was the section when it asked about grandparent’s details (dates of birth, marriages, employment etc). I’m not sure what the logic is behind it but for some reason I completed this for Isla’s passport (two years ago), but not for Saya’s passport.
You might also be interested in my post- ‘How we can afford family travel so often (and how you could too)‘
Note, however, that this has not been removed from the application. If you use the online system there is a warning at the beginning of the process asking you to obtain this information before you start as there is no option to save it and continue later.
Make sure that you read the accompanying notes. If you use the online system these will be notes that are embedded within the form. If you use the paper-based application the notes come in a leaflet.
If you have any mistakes, your passport application will be returned to you, which I don’t think anybody really wants, especially if you have a holiday coming up!
Baby passport photo
For many parents, the biggest hurdle when applying for your baby passport is the photo.
If you are using the online system you are required to upload a photo. You can either take this yourself, or you can have this taken for you at a specialist photo shop.
In attempt to save a little bit of money to put towards our family travels, we tried to take baby Saya’s photo at home. This was extremely challenging! Not only did it take many attempts to get her to face the camera before she would turn her head, but then the automated system rejected my photos based on colour! Seriously, colour!
Here are just a few of my (failed) baby passport photos.
After our failed attempts at taking the baby passport photo ourselves, we tried to reach out to a professional. We have used Snappy Snaps to get our baby passport photos taken for both of our daughters. I would highly recommend them! They lay baby down on a white sheet and make sure that all o the colours are correct etc. They will take as many shots as they need to to get the best photo. Once complete, they will provide you with a link to use the photo on the automated system (I tried this- it still rejected the photo) as well as physical copies of the photo.
Because this is baby’s first passport, you will need to get a countersignature. If you choose to use the online system, this can be done electronically. If you complete a paper-based application then it will need to be done by hand, where by the names person is required to complete a section of the passport application form and also sign the back of the photograph. A countersignature is required to confirm the child’s identification.
Not everyone can countersign a passport photo. The person must have a certain occupation that is deemed ‘professional’, such as a teacher or a doctor. You can find a list of all occupations that are accepted for a countersignature on the .gov.uk website.
How long does it take to get a passport?
Getting a baby passport can take longer than an ordinary passport renewal because it is a first application. Having said that, my personal experience has been that the girl’s passports have arrived very quickly! In 2017, Isla’s passport arrived in less than a week- I was REALLY impressed! In 2019, Saya’s passport took around three weeks to arrive. Given the current Brexit situation, however, I was still impressed with this speed!
You might also be interested in my post- ‘5 must-have baby travel items (and they’re not what you would expect)‘
How much is a passport?
The cost of your baby passport will differ depending on whether you applied online or by paper application. If you apply online the fee is £75.50. If you apply using a paper application form you will be required to pay £85. This did make me feel slight aggrieved as I was unable to apply via the online system, as I had wanted to, and then I felt like I was penalised by having to pay more to apply by paper!
Nevertheless, I would get baby’s passport at the end of it, which would mean the start of our travel adventures as a family of four! We have lots of exciting things in the pipeline and I’d love to share them with you! Why not subscribe to the Lifeasabutterfly mailing list below or follow along on social media (links below)?
Planning baby’s first holiday? Get some inspiration in my post ‘Top Five Destinations to Travel with a Baby‘. Check out Skyscanner for the best flight deals, booking.com for some great offers on hotels or Icelolly.com for package holidays. If you fancy giving air b’n’b a go (this is my personal preference), then why not take advantage of this coupon, which gives you £34 discount! Oh, and don’t forget to order your baby passport holder!