Countersigning, Get it right, Save delays!

With the weather warming up and both adults and children wanting to go abroad over the summer period, passport applications are coming in thick and fast. One way to ensure there are no delays on your application is to make sure that 'if' you need your photo countersigned that it is done by an appropriate person.

As most of us are aware, finding someone who is willing and able to countersign your passport photo can be a bit of a nightmare. Many of the people who are able to sign it for you either aren't aware they can do it for you or are trying to charge you a small fortune for the pleasure. So hopefully this will answer some or all of the questions you may have.

You do have to be aware that there are certain criteria that has to be met for the Passport Office to accept that the counter signatory is genuine and not someone you met in a queue, and it's also worth checking that you actually need it signing before running around trying to get it done. Not all passport applications need to have a photo countersigned so please check the list below.


When do I need my photo countersigned?

As I said above, not all passport applications need their photos and form's countersigning. So before you start your application have a look here and see if the type of passport you are applying for requires a countersignature.

• Your first adult or child passport.
• Replacement for a lost, stolen or damaged passport.
• Renewal of a passport for a child aged 11 or under.
• Renewal of a passport if your appearance has changed and you can't be recognised from your existing passport photo.


If you are simply applying for a renewal of a child or adult passport there is no need for your photo to be countersigned, and you can continue to send your application without it.


Why do I need my photo countersigned?

The reason you need your photo's countersigning is to prove your identity to The Passport Office and your eligibility to hold a British Passport. Your photo must be countersigned by someone who has known you for two or more years, holds a British or Irish passport and can confirm the fact that the photo you are presenting to The Passport Office is a true likeness of yourself and you are who you claim to be. They must also confirm that to their knowledge, all the information you have provided is correct.

If you are only renewing your adult passport (and you have not changed since your old passpot photo), a countersigned photo is not necessary.


What requirements does the person signing my photo need?

Whenever you ask someone to countersign you photo, please be aware there are some guidelines to follow, so before asking someone make sure they fit the list below.

• They need to have known the person applying for at least 2 years
• They need to be able to identify the person applying, eg they're a friend, neighbour or colleague (not just someone who knows them professionally)

• If the form is for a child passport, the counter signatory should know the person who signs the declaration rather than the child.

• The counter signatory must also provide their British or Irish passport number -HMPO may check their identity.

• They can not be closely related or involved with the person applying, eg: related by birth or marriage.

• They can not be in a relationship or live at the same address as the person applying.


If you are applying within the UK then the person countersigning must have a British or Irish passport.

If you are applying outside of the UK they must have a current British, Irish or other EU, US or Commonwealth passport. But your application will be processed more quickly if they have a British or Irish passport.

When they hold a US, Commonwealth or other EU (not British or Irish) passport, they must provide a colour photocopy of the page with their photograph on it. This must be included with the countersigned application.


Occupation list

Here's a list of occupations that the person countersigning the photo must work in (or be retired from) it has to be a recognised profession or be 'a person of good standing in their community', eg:
• Accountant
• Airline pilot
• Articled clerk of a limited company
• Assurance agent of recognised company
• Bank/building society official
• Barrister
• Chairman/director of limited company
• Chiropodist
• Commissioner of oaths
• Councillor, eg local or county
• Civil servant (permanent), but not someone who works for Her Majesty's Passport Office (HMPO)
• Dentist
• Director/manager/personnel officer of a VAT-registered company
• Engineer - with professional qualifications
• Financial services intermediary, eg a stockbroker or insurance broker
• Fire service official
• Funeral director
• Insurance agent (full time) of a recognised company
• Journalist
• Justice of the Peace
• Legal secretary - fellow or associate member of the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs
• Licensee of public house
• Local government officer
• Manager/personnel officer of a limited company
• Member, associate or fellow of a professional body
• Member of Parliament
• Merchant Navy officer
• Minister of a recognised religion - including Christian Science
• Nurse - RGN or RMN
• Officer of the armed services
• Optician
• Paralegal - certified paralegal, qualified paralegal or associate member of the Institute of Paralegals
• Person with honours, eg an OBE or MBE
• Pharmacist
• Photographer - professional
• Police officer
• Post Office official
• President/secretary of a recognised organisation
• Salvation Army officer
• Social worker
• Solicitor
• Surveyor
• Teacher, lecturer
• Trade union officer
• Travel agent - qualified
• Valuer or auctioneer - fellows and associate members of the incorporated society
• Warrant Officers and Chief Petty Officers

Please note that employees of Her Majesty's Passport Office can not be counter signatories.

You may be asked to find someone else if your counter signatory doesn't meet requirements. Also your counter signatory may be contacted by HMPO for more information. If they aren't available (eg they're on holiday), your application may be delayed.

This process can be made a lot easier just by knowing a little extra information. Finding the right counter-signer for your application can be a tricky, but we hope that this guide will save you some valuable time during this year's peak application period.

Need more information?

Talk to the Passport Office team

Call Passport Advice Line

Lines open 8am-8pm


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Passports Office provides relevant information about new passports, renewing an existing passport, and the contact details of key UK passport offices.

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