As of October 5, 1998, all British children and infants must be issued their own passport for international travel, although prior to that date British children were allowed to be included on a parent or guardian's passport. A British child passport is valid for five years and when it expires, it can be continue to be renewed for an additional five years until the child is 16 years old. British children 16 years old or older must apply for an adult passport. Every passport, child or adult, is required to have a photo and if the photograph does not comply with Home Office Identity and Passport Service (IPS) requirements passport approval will be delayed.
Child Passport Age Requirements
All children, including infants, are required to have their own passport to travel internationally. Children under 16 should apply for a child passport and may continue use the passport until it expires in five years. Children 16 years and older will have to apply for an adult passport. British adult passports are valid for 10 years.
First Application for a Child Passport
To be eligible to apply for a five-year British child passport, the child must be under 16 years old and must also be a British citizen, a British overseas territories citizen or a British overseas citizen. Along with the application forms, you will need to provide original documents that prove your child is British and be aware that photocopies or laminated documents are not acceptable. However, the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) will accept documents that are laminated for Braille labelling purposes. In addition to the child's full birth or adoption certificate that provides the parents' details, you may also be asked to produce the mother or the father's UK birth certificate, Home Office certificate of registration or naturalisation, a passport that was valid at the time of the child's birth or the parents' marriage certificate. For more detailed information about these rules, click on the link for "Nationality Groups Who are Eligible for a British Passport" in the References section.
How to Get An Application Form
Before you can begin the process of applying for a British passport for your child, you must first acquire a copy of the application form. Passport applications for both children and adults are available from an British Post Office branch that offers the Passport Check and Send service, by filling out an online application form request from IPS or by calling the Passport Adviceline and requesting the forms be mailed to you. If you complete the application form online, the IPS will print out the completed form and mail it to you and to complete the application process, you will need to sign the form and return it, along with supporting documents, to the IPS.
Renewing a Child Passport
You can renew your child's passport as long as you have their current, undamaged standard five-year child passport and you do not need to make any changes for their name or national status. Renew a passport when the current one is full or if it will expire within a few months. You can apply to renew your child's passport at any time and any time remaining on the old passport will be added onto the new passport by IPS, up to a maximum of nine months. If you do not have the old passport, if it has been damaged or if you need to make changes to their name or national status, you must apply for a new passport.
If you are not currently residing in the UK but need to apply for a new passport, or if you need to renew your child's passport, you will need to schedule an appointment at a Regional Passport Office for your next visit to the UK. To reserve a meeting time, call the IPS Passport Adviceline at +44 (0)300 222 0000 from outside the UK. You will need to be able to provide an UK address where IPS can send the new passport. If you are living abroad and you will not be returning to the UK before the passport is set to expire, contact your local embassy, high commission or consulate for assistance because IPS cannot accept applications sent from overseas. Keep in mind that it generally takes between four and six weeks to issue a passport.