In a few weeks, we’re jetting off to Ireland for the lovely family holiday that has been planned for months – I’m so excited about it. You’d think that as it has been in the diary for so long, I would have got my ass in gear and organised Emma’s passport in advance. But for some reason, despite actually getting the passport photos done ages ago, I have still left it all to the last minute!
Luckily there is a service available for people like me that just lose track of life and only think of doing it a few weeks beforehand. In my defence, I think the big stumbling block was the fact that you can only get the passport application form from the big Post Office in town, and I have an aversion from going there with the buggy as it’s boiling hot and gets a bit stressful. Actually who am I kidding, you can also do the online form – I’m just full of excuses. So here’s my little how to on fast-tracking the baby passport…
1. Application Form
After all those weeks of avoiding going to get an application form, you now need one pronto. These are not available from all Post Offices but if you check on their website, if they have a Check & Send service available, they’ll have the forms too. There is always a bit of a queue so try not to do what we did and time it precisely with when everyone is taking a lunch break and trying to post all their letters.
Top tip: take a few forms, just in case you make any mistakes!
2. Passport Photos
For baby passport photos, it’s probably wise to go to a shop like Kodak or Snappy Snaps to get these done, especially if you also have a little wriggler on your hands. We chose a Kodak shop that had been recommended to us and they made this so quick a simple for us. They laid Emma down on a white sheet and quickly took a photo as I held her arms. She was good as gold and the first shot was perfect. I have also heard that Paspic is a fantastic service and well worth looking into if you have a bit more time on your side.
Top tip: bring any rattly or musical toys to attract their attention as the picture is being taken.
3. Filling out the Application Form
Most of this is relatively straightforward but there is a little section about providing grandparents birth certificates – this isn’t required unless your baby is adopted. Also, for me as I was naturalised (I was born in Hong Kong), I wondered if they need my naturalisation certificate. They don’t, as I was a British Citizen on the day Emma was born. It’s always the little details that sometimes become confusing when you’re filling it out.
Top tip: check the instruction booklet carefully for documents to bring with you to the interview.
I find this part really annoying if I’m honest! You need to get one of the passport pictures counter-signed by someone who has known you for at least 2 years. Their occupation needs to be one of the approved jobs too – we were lucky that a close friend is a teacher so could do this quite easily.
Top tip: be sure to follow the exact wording for certifying the picture as it can be rejected otherwise.
5.Book a Fast-Track Interview
This is really easy to do and can be done via the Gov.uk website. I was lucky as there were lots of appointments available and very quickly too. The whole thing costs about £90 including the delivery back to you and you need to pay this upfront so you need to be sure that you’ll be able to attend the interview on that day.
Top tip: give your email address and you’ll be sent reminders of your appointment along with the address of the passport office and how to get there.
6. Attend the Interview
Our interview was in London and was quite a handy location as it is round the back of London Victoria station, where the Brighton train arrives. It was so easy to find as there are signs pointing you in the right direction and as we arrived there are several reception staff on hand to help with any queries. I forgot to bring one of the documents so couldn’t get the passport done but attended the interview anyway, so I didn’t lose my money and will return this week to finalise everything.
Top tip: you don’t need to bring your baby to the interview. I would advise not to as there is a lot of waiting around and going through security with the buggy was a bit of a faff, so if you do have childcare available – it makes life easier! Also check your changing bag for dangerous cutlery as I had 5 forks at the bottom of mine and the security guards weren’t impressed by that 😉
As I mentioned, we’re not quite there with our passport but hope to have it sorted soon! Hope this little list will be helpful for anyone applying for the first baby passport. Looking back, if I had got myself a bit more organised – I would have sent it off 6 weeks before our flight via the Post Office Check & Send, which is a fantastic service…there’s always next time!