My experience getting a second UK passport using the Premium Service.

What is obvious to me about the UK Passport agency is the lack of consistent information they give to those obtaining a second UK passport. That's why I wrote this piece a while back about, but even after I published that article I was getting conflicting information from readers.

Some readers of this blog will be aware of a technique called “hang up and call again”. It means that if the customer service agent on the other side of the phone tells you something you don’t think is right, simply hang up and call again hoping to reach another operator. If you hear the same reason another time then you can almost be certain what they're saying is true. Almost.

So when I called the UK Passport Agency about getting a second UK passport urgently for work purposes on three occasions, each agent told me I could only use the 1 week “Fast track” service, otherwise I had to do it by post. I was convinced this was true, until a reader on my original post left a comment that he used the 1 day “Premium” service. So with this new information I tried my luck.

I called up for the 4th time about a week in advance and this time simply requested a “premium renewal” service. The booking was made without problems, and the standard procedure before the operator hangs up is to read a checklist of what to bring to your appointment. At this point I told him that it was for a 2nd passport for business reasons, and he read the list specific to this scenario. No further questions asked by either side.

The surprising thing for applying in person is that no supporting evidence other than my existing passport and a letter from my employer was required. Compare this to a postal application whereby it was originally claimed by another operator you also need one or more of:

  • Birth certificate from the UK
  • Birth certificate from outside the UK plus the passport of your British parent.
  • Certificate of Naturalisation
  • Certificate of Registration

I filled in Sections 1, 2,3,4,5,8,9 and my manager filled in Section 10 (the counter-signatory part). For section 1 I crossed the box to say this was for “my first British passport”. For Section 8 (additional information) I put in the words “PLEASE DO NOT CANCEL MY EXISTING PASSPORT.”

I arrived 15 minutes before my scheduled appointment. There is an airport style metal detector and x-ray screening of your bag. After getting my ticket I waited about 10 minutes before my number was called.

The lady who processed my application checked the details of my submission. On her screen it said that I was there for a “renewal”, though when I mentioned it was my 2nd passport she knew the procedure immediately.

She did however try to deny my application because Section 10 “Your employer's name and the address you work at, (or your private address if this does not apply)” was outside the UK. I explained to her that my manager and I are employed by a company outside the UK. Her curt response was “you have to be in the UK to sign this bit. They’re not going to do international calls”, I (facetiously) responded that we were both in the UK when the application form was filled in, but our employing company is based outside UK. A snappy “didn’t you read the conditions of declarations?!” was met with “I’m sorry, I didn’t fill it in … that part was done by the counter-signatory”. She accepted it anyway, and I doubt they’ll bother calling my boss anyway!

Checking a blank application form from my hotel room now, there is nothing in the declaration that says anything about being in the UK. I have no idea why she made a fuss of this…

Another issue I had was my passport photo being rejected first time round. It was taken against white background, instead of a beige or grey background as mandated in the guidelines. I had incorrectly assumed that because my existing passport (issued in 2007) had a white background, it would still be ok. I did start getting worried because my new photo would not get a counter signature.

In the end it was not a problem though, she accepted the rest of the application was fine and she took everything in except my photo. They have a standard slip to instruct people what to do. There are photo booths inside the Passport Office which charge £5 for 5 photos, so after taking a new picture, just grab another ticket, wait another 10 mins to get called up and re-submit the form at a special desk for “photo resubmissions”. After I gave the new photo I went to the cashier counters where to pay one of them for your service.

I paid £137 which is £91 for the “Jumbo” 48 page passport (which actually contains 42 pages which can be stamped), plus the £46 premium service fee. Finally, 4 hours later I picked up my new passport.

And here it is with its older sibling…

Second UK passport

Second UK passport (left) in its shining glory.

 

 Have you also applied for a second UK passport? Let us know of your experience!

Pingbacks

  1. […] First thing to note is that the new passport will not be a duplicate of your existing one. The new document will have a different passport number, expiry date and photo, and will thus be treated as a standalone. Your new passport will be valid for 10 years which you renew by the usual processes afterwards. You can read about my own experience using the Premium service here. […]

Comments

  1. There is premium service for either registering a new one or renewing one as well and i have to tell you Time is money since the faster you want the process to undergo,the more you have to pay(i had been there) hahaha

  2. Thanks for writing this up – very useful! How detailed was the letter from your employer, full lists of countries you expect to travel to for work? Or just a request that you be allowed a second passport for reasons of business travel?

    • My letter was very detailed. I put an idea of what it should look like here but it is only guidance and you need to tailor it to your circumstance.

      I don’t want to put my exact letter up, but if you want me to review yours then I’d be happy to do so

    • A couple of scenarios:

      1) travelling a lot for work and needing to have your passport at hand, but simultaneously needing to submit it to get a visa for another country. Only doable with 2nd passport.

      2) i have an Israel stamp in my passport but need to visit other Middle Eastern countries who aren’t friends with them. Entry would be denied without the 2nd passport.

  3. Hey Tim.

    Great post. Would it be ok to have a quick chat with you on the phone (or Skype)? Very quick, I just need some advice on getting a second passport and I think that would be easiest discussed voice to voice.

    If so, please pop me an email at tom@djtomjames.com

    Thanks,

    Tom

  4. Hi,

    Has anyone tried rapid-visas.com ?

    Apart from the hefty charges, they claim to get the 2nd passport for you,
    They even do the appointment/interview on your behalf.

    Anyone have any Experience?

    Thanks!

  5. I would like to add the following – my business letter of recommendation for 2nd passport was signed by an HR advisor which caused a slight bit of contention until I convinced them she was the ‘second most senior person in the department’. The guy who processed my application was pretty straightforward though.

    If possible get your letter signed by the most senior person you can do.

    • Thanks for advising Joe! I imagine for many, getting the top dog to sign will be a bureaucratic nightmare, so perhaps you could also try enhancing someone else’s job title!

  6. Thanks for the great advice.
    One more thing that is important is that the letter from your employer must be less than 4 weeks old. I was just refused as my employer (who is based overseas) wrote a letter exactly 5 weeks ago as this was the last time I was in the office.

  7. To renew an existing 2nd UK passport.
    For normal renewal you only need your expired passport.

    For renewal of an expired 2nd passport you also need to produce your 1st passports. So in other words, both passports must be presented to apply for renewal of either.
    I was informed of this at my application interview when I made an application at Glasgow passport office in Jan of 2016 to renew a lost passport (another story).
    Fortunately, clever clogs had both passports in his pocket so crisis was averted

    .

  8. Hi I just tried to apply for a 2nd passport using CIBT visas, they told me that the UK passport office now insist that to qualify for a 2nd passport you need to regularly travel to 6 countries that require visas before you can get a 2nd passport. Is this true?

    • Never heard of it, but in my experience they seem to make up rules as they go along. You need to ask if they have some internal policy documentation affirming that

  9. Tim, thank you very much for taking the time to write this invaluable post, it was most helpful. I’m surprised there is no official procedure to follow through but then again I guess they want to limit the number of people applying for 2 passports.

    I phoned the passport office to ask how I can obtain a second British passport and they confirmed I need to bring a letter from my employer and apply for a first time passport. I am going to attempt a 1 day service and let’s see how it goes.

    Thanks again!

  10. Hi Tim,

    Thanks for all your info about this across your two posts. I saw you mention that you would be happy to review someone’s letter – are you still able to do this? I am about to get one signed by my superior in a few days time so it would be good to see if I am on the right track in terms of the content of the letter

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