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