The missus and I aren’t the most extravagant when it comes to spending money, but one of the areas where we (i.e. the missus) are quite susceptible to splashing the cash is on holidays. In our nine years as a couple, I hate to think about the money which has been spent on flights, hotels, food and entertainment whilst we’ve been away.
Off the top of my head, we’ve been to over ten countries – Croatia, Belgium, Iceland, Germany, Sweden, Norway, France, Italy, Jamaica, Canada and USA (five times) – as well as had breaks here in the UK (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). I don’t say this to brag or show off, more to highlight how going abroad on holidays has been such a big part of our lives. And how much money I’d have if we didn’t get married!
When Baby L was born, we sort of decided that our gallivanting abroad would probably come to an end. Not only would money be tighter, but there would be the added complications of taking all of the baby paraphernalia with you and being *that* couple on a long-haul flight with a screaming sprog. Still, just eight months later, the missus has been getting itchy feet and dreaming of holidays in more glorious surroundings. Typical.
This means that Baby L’s passport application was sent to the good folk at the Passport Office the other week – I’d pretend that I’m annoyed, but I’m really not as it’s part of a surprise she’s planned for my 30th birthday in May. The process was pretty straightforward, which surprised me having heard some horror stories about rejected photos and paperwork. This is probably down to the fact that Baby L was born in the UK and as Hay and I are married – other situations like adoption, court orders and the involvement of social services can complicate things even more. Still, that didn’t stop Hay sending off the ‘wrong’ birth certificate which slowed the process slightly!
We applied for Baby L’s first child passport online, but it’s also possible to get a form from the Post Office if you prefer pen and paper, or use the Post Office Check and Send Service (although there is a charge). The online form was pretty simple, you just need to make sure you’ve read everything carefully – I’d suggest you wait until your screaming baby is fast asleep in bed before tackling it!
The info required is pretty basic for a baby’s first passport, such as name, address, gender, place of birth, contact details, details of previous passports, parents details, registration / naturalisation and declaration. Once the online form is completed and you’ve checked it, you just need to print it out, include the supporting documentation, provide payment (£46.00 for a five year passport) and get it countersigned by a reputable member of society!
You’ll need to check what evidence you need to include, but this usually consists of two recent, identical photos of the little one and their birth certificate. The photo is the thing that is most likely to be messed up during the process as they’re pretty stringent – for instance, you need to ensure it is a close up snap of the face, head and shoulders and is taken against a plain background. With a baby under one year of age, they’re a bit more lenient, so the sprog can have their eyes closed and their expression doesn’t need to be neutral.
To get the photo, you can do it yourself at home, at a photo booth or get someone to do it for you on the high street, for example, a local photo shop or shoe repair shop. We chose the latter as it was the safest option and had a nice fella take Baby L’s photo then print it out in store. As it’s a first passport, you also need to have one of the photos certified by the same person who countersigned your form.
You also need to include your baby’s full birth certificate in your application – this is the one that you need to buy which includes details of the child and parents, not the short version which only has the baby’s details. The missus obviously didn’t read this correctly as she sent the short version which delayed the process! As can tend to happen with a random, loose piece of paper, sometimes the birth certificate can be lost, misplaced or damaged. If this is you, don’t worry as you can buy a replacement birth certificate – you can get this directly from the General Register Office which can take a few weeks, or get it from an independent agency who are can speed up the process.
Once you’ve sent off the form, payment, birth certificate and photos, you should *hopefully* not hear back from the Passport Office until your sprog’s shiny new passport arrives in the post. This usually takes up to three weeks and your supporting documentation is sent back to you separately. If you need your passport urgently and quicker than the quoted three weeks, then you can pay for the Passport Office Fast Track Service or Premium Service which could get you a passport within four hours.
After this, all that’s left to do is to put on your shorts and splash on the sun cream in preparation for your
relaxing stressful holiday away with your baby. I’m not quite sure what the missus has planned for my 30th birthday, but the fact that she’s ordered a baby passport gives a pretty strong indication that we’ll be leaving the country!