Travel Tips For British Citizens: All About Getting Your First Adult Passport

Any British citizen who is planning to travel abroad from the UK will need to hold a valid passport in order to be able to make the journey. If you are traveling as a family and have older children who are now considered to be eligible for an adult passport, you should  allow a minimum of six weeks before your travel date to get your application approved and returned.

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Child passport

Anyone under the age of 16 will need a child’s passport in order to be able to travel abroad and this normally runs for a period of 5 years from date of issue. The passport can then be renewed for a further 5 years even if that will take them beyond the date where they are officially classed as an adult. A child who needs to renew their passport when they 14 for example, can renew for another 5 years and then apply for their first adult passport once it expires and despite the fact that they are already an adult at 19 years of age.

Applying for your first adult passport

Quite a lot of children have not had their own passport up to the point before they reach an adult age, as they have either been included on their parent’s passport or have simply not needed one beforehand.

In order to apply for your adult passport, the passport office will need to see your original birth certificate and any supporting paperwork if your name has changed since you were born through a variety of reasons such as adoption or divorce.

Getting married

If you are planning to get married abroad and want to apply for a new passport in your intended married name, this can be done up to three months before you actually get married.

Traveling abroad under your new married surname as a husband and wife is something that quite a few newlyweds prefer to do, but you should be aware of a few pitfalls with that idea that could present a few unwelcome problems at passport control.

You need to make sure that the surname on your travel tickets corresponds with the surname that you now have on your new passport. If you book your honeymoon travel some time beforehand, in your old surname and therefore create a discrepancy with your travel documents due to different surnames, you might that some countries refuse to allow you in, so be careful with your planning.

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It is probably better to apply for a change of name on your passport after you return home rather than create a problem that could have been avoided, just because you wanted the same new surname on your passport.

Verifying your identity

Another important part of your passport application as well as providing documents, such as your birth certificate, is providing independent verification of your identity.

This involves having someone of suitable professional or good standing in the community who knows you, countersigning your passport application and photograph, with a statement that they have known you for at least 2 years and can vouch for your identity.

They will also be required to provide their own passport number on your application so that this information and their identity can be checked if required.

Photo ID

Your application for a passport also involves providing two identical and suitable passport photos which meet the required criteria in terms of size and display. If you do not get the photos right and do not follow the detailed guidelines as to what is and isn’t acceptable for your passport photo, you can expect your application to be rejected and returned to you, with a request to provide an acceptable photo ID before they can consider issuing your passport.

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This can cause a serious delay in your application and if you are already working to a strict deadline to get the passport back in time to travel, it could prevent you from traveling altogether, so take the time to get it right first time.

Check everything

As well as making sure that your passport photo meets the required standard, you should also go through your application thoroughly to check everything before you send it off.

Not ticking a box or failing to enclose information requested will simply result in your application being declined and sent back to you with details of what is missing or incorrect. Double-check everything before you seal the envelope and also make a note of the application bar code number on the passport application, so that you can refer to if you have to call.

Getting your first passport or renewing your old one can be fairly straightforward but time-consuming, especially when you are waiting for it to come through, so make sure you give the passport office everything that they need in order to rubber stamp your application.

Sophie Miller is a self-admitted travel fanatic. When she’s not on the road or in the air, she’s writing about it. You can read her interesting posts mainly on travel and recreation blogs and sites.

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About Agness

Travel freak, vagabond, photography passionate, blogger, life enthusiast, backpacker, adventure hunter and endless energy couchsurfer living by the rule "Pack lite, travel far and live long!"


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13 Comments

  • How ironic as I’m renewing (mine expired) my U.S. passport as we speak, Agness! Wowee, the world has changed a lot since I last was using 20 years ago. But, so far so good in the process! :)

      • Yes the backlog has cleared. It tends to get busy in the build up to summer. My experience and advice is to apply a few months before you plan to travel. Our beloved Passport Office has a tendency to develop backlogs at the most inappropriate times. The sooner you apply the sooner you’ll get your passport. Simples.

  • Really useful post! I know so many people, even who have lived in the UK a long while, who aren’t necessarily familiar with the steps needed with passport applications. I myself hadn’t realised till very recently, that if your passport goes missing, it can take months for them to sort it all out so it can make a big difference to travel plans in interim etc!

  • British citizens should also be aware of the Post Office’s ‘check and send’ service. You take your application forms, and all the associated documentation the a participating Post Office, and they will check everything over to ensure it’s correct before sending it off.

  • Some good advice here. When I got married last year we kept my bride’s passport in her maiden name for our honeymoon (just as well we didn’t go to a Muslim country!) and only changed it once we got back and she had a break from travel.

    It seems like a distant memory applying for my first passport more than 20+ years ago. I’ve been through a fair few since.

    I was annoyed once on an application. I applied and ticked to pay for the more expensive, larger passport (with more pages) since I travel so much. The passport office took the payment for the higher amount then issued me with the smaller (less pages) book. I was very annoyed but not much I could do about it.

  • Applying the first time is the hardest, as it seems you need to include a letter from your third grade teacher (which can be true if they qualify as a guarantor for you!) After that, you just need to renew in time for your next adventure!

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