20 Things I Learned About Emergency Child Passport Renewal

(artist recreation)

  1. I’ve experienced many shocks in my life, but finding out your child’s passport has expired 2 days before a highly anticipated holiday is up there in the (non-terrible) shock list. If this is you my condolences, and prescription. There is something deeply emotive about missing a flight, which seems to extend past the cost, but life goes on.
  2. With the possible exception of royalty and high ranking officials, there is no way to get a same day child renewal passport despite what people may be saying about ‘extortionate’ premium services. Since April 2014, these are for adult passport renewals only (and I wouldn’t say extortionate). I now know of very well-connected, wealthy people not managing to accelerate the process. Oh how I wish it was just my passport and I could wander in with sunglasses and pick up a fresh pink one in the time it takes to write the post and supping a cap’. No, no.7 is it.
  3. A permit to travel has criteria including being outside the UK at the time of application. It’s basically to get people home if they run into passport difficulties, not for privileged people with poor management skills to go on holiday. Didn’t you read no. 2?
  4. 5 years for child passports, 10 for adults. Not sure how to remember that other than putting a calendar reminder a month before passport expiration. [Edit: make it 7 Months as some countries require a minimum 3 or even 6 months remaining on the passport]t. Seems ridiculously futuristic now, but a smug hack when 5-10 years hurtle around in no time. But you don’t want to hear this now.
  5. Watching a 5-year old sobbing over your stupid mistake is horrible.
  6. Despite 5), children are way more resilient and mature than adults requiring just 2 minutes of dedicated sobbing and then never looking back, 3 days later I’m still downloading mindfulness apps. There’s a lot to be said for dedicated grieving and then moving on happily.
  7. What you need is an appointment for Fast track child passport renewal. £127 (with courier service which of course you should get), first thing to do is go here and…
  8. Book the appointment first  (before getting and filling the paper application).
  9. The appointment booking system has a roulette-wheel-in-quantum-flux weirdness. On Monday, there were no London appointments till Friday, so I booked in Peterborough for Wednesday afternoon. On Tuesday morning I happened to check again and there were 15 available for Wednesday morning in London. I swallowed the extra cost (48 hour minimum cancellation refund) for the accelerated time and minimised hassle. It’s stressful because you don’t know whether to wait for better or grab them while you can. If you live in London and can get one within two days , (particularly in the morning as after 2pm is essentially the next day in terms of processing) then I suggest going for it. When one of my applications was rejected (see 12), they arranged a follow up appointment at no extra cost for the next morning. Fuck knows how it works.
  10. Go to post office for paper application. There’s basically one form. Pick up several (tell them you are renewing for your Irish catholic family). You may well fuck up most of them (we came really close).
  11. While there get fresh photos for your child(ren), follow rules to the letter.
  12. You need a counter signatory. They are (as I painfully discovered) ridiculously picky (and illogical) about who counts as a valid human. Literally writing one of the professions in exactly as written on page 13 of the guidelines is advised.  Safest I would suggest, an employed person with one of those job titles with a work address. I don’t want to name drop, but an impressive one to you may not be to them. (e.g. Bill Frisell)
  13. Counter-sign ONE photo with the wording exactly the same. Person next to me was rejected because countersignatory PRINTED rather than signed on back of photo. It has to match the Section 10 signature.
  14. Don’t bother with their checking service, in my experience their approval doesn’t necessarily translate to HM’s
  15. Just do the form again if you fuck up, don’t fuck about with initialling mistakes (see 10). Relax and do it properly. The non-smudgy black biro is your new superhero friend.
  16. When signing stay in the border, don’t touch the border. Stay away from our borders.
  17. HM passport office has a security screening. Think and dress for airport. No duty free though. You don’t need children or spouse there. It’s not unpleasant and I waited 10-30 mins in the summer, but still, only the appointment booker needs be there so long as you have the form, 2 IDENTICAL photos (one countersigned) (see 13) and THE OLD PASSPORT. You are good, I brought every other document I had (including Junior Table Football champion in my school house, bitches) but they weren’t interested.
  18. I’m not saying they are looking for mistakes in your application, but anything that isn’t exactly as specified in guidance will be flat rejected, I doubt even Derren Brown with a box of donuts can turn a decision over a signature (although that would be a good show)
  19. Travel insurance generally doesn’t cover your fault passport fuckups (their term), but worth checking.
  20. Fast Track is guaranteed (whatever that means) within 7 days. Once your (kid’s) passport application is accepted you get a piece of paper with a reference saying (basically) “You’ll get it in 7 days, don’t think about talking to us”. Whether that is working days, and how quickly it might come, I don’t know. I’ve heard reports from random internet folk, and the person that approved the form, of “a couple of days” and “2-3 days”. I will share my experience, and those of any who want to tell me, below:

My experience:

Monday: horror. Look up appointments nearest Wednesday Afternoon: Peterborough (London on Friday), next morning managed to get Wednesday AM in London, countersignatory rejected, Thursday AM it’s accepted. Friday PM a text that said (basically) “approved it ill be there in a few days”. Tuesday AM a text in am “It’s coming today”. Tuesday 2-3pm passport arrives (posted through door).

Anonymous 1: Tuesday AM Appointment (Peterborough), Thursday “few days” text, Friday passport arrives (nice).

Good luck, my idiotic friend, you will get it sorted and there are many adventures ahead.

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3 replies on “20 Things I Learned About Emergency Child Passport Renewal”

It’s worth putting that renewal reminder more than 6 months before the expiry date of the passport. Some countries won’t let you in with less than 6 months and even more require 3 months. I had this problem when taking my lovely, aged (87 at the time) mother to visit my sister in Qatar, which requires 3 months before the expiry date (not 2 months and 29 days).

Still not received it yet. Appointment was Thursday am, I got a text Friday PM saying it would be delivered “in next few days”. Not received it yet, others in my position received it day after text.

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