Countersigning Passport Applications
When to sign & what to do, applying for or renewing your passport can be daunting for many people, and we are getting an increasing amount of people asking questions regarding how to get their photos countersigned, by who and what are the guidelines surrounding their child's passport.
We've put together some useful information that should make this process a lot easier for anyone who may be a little unsure. As the security guidelines change over the years it is important to keep up to date with the current guidelines and mistakes on your application will result in your application taking longer and could result in you losing out on your travel plans.
Who can countersign my photos?
There are strict guidelines on who can and can not countersign your photos. Ultimately, The Passport Office is looking for anyone who either works in or is retired from a recognised profession. This person also has to have a good standing within the community.
Professions that are recognised consist of careers including doctors, police officers, civil servants, solicitors and chairman/director of a limited company
Many people think that they don't know anyone that could possible be surprised, the list of approved profession is very extensive. Everything from a bank manager to your local pharmacist and even your manager at work, all these people more than qualify to be a counter-signatory.
See our who can countersign list of professionals. Please note however that tour counter-signatory can not work for Her Majesty's Passport Office or be related to you through birth or marriage, as this would clearly be a conflict of interest.
Recent update regarding GP's and Doctors: Although doctors are a recognised profession HM Passport Office no longer accepts your own GP as a counter-signatory. This is due to the high volume of people requesting the service and the pressure this puts on the very limited resources available to local surgeries. However if you know or have a friend that is a doctor this is still accepted.
My child is under 16, does the person countersigning the photos need to know my child for at least 2 years?
The simple answer is No.
When you are applying for or renewing a UK passport for a child under 16 as the parent or guardian you are responsible for their application and therefore the counter-signatory needs to have known you, not the child for at least 2 years.
Do I need my passport photos countersigned every time I renew my passport?
As an adult when renewing your passport you do not need to have your photos countersigned unless you have changed significantly. This doesn't include things like a change in hairstyle or a few more wrinkles than your last passport.
This refers to people who have changed considerably from their previous passport and would not be recognised. So if you have grown or shaved a beard, had facial surgery or aged a significant amount you will need to have a counter-signatory.
Do both photos need to be signed?
You will need two passport sized photos to accompany your complete and correct passport application, but only one of those photos needs to be signed while the other must remain blank.
It is also important to remember that it is not just a signature you require. It must be written in a professional manner.
For Example - On the back of one photo only
"I, John Smith certify that this is a true likeness of Jack Jones"
This must also include the date and a signature. The person who is countersigning your photos must also complete and sign section  of the Passport application form, taking care to include valid contact details, address and valid Passport information. Further examples can also be found in the guidance booklet that accompanies your application form.
Passport photo requirements
To ensure you have a perfect photo first time make sure you follow all of the requirements for photos.
Your photos must be:
• printed to a professional standard
• 35mm wide by 45mm high
• taken within the last month
• in colour on plain white photographic paper with no border
• taken against a plain cream or light grey background
• unaltered by computer software
• be a close-up of your full head and upper shoulders
• contain no other objects or people
• be in clear contrast to the background
• have nothing covering your face including glasses
For more information about the guidelines on passport photo please see our passport photo guide
Do the local Passport Offices have photo booths?
If for some reason you have forgotten to get your passport photos and you are at your local Passport Office for an urgent appointment, you'll be pleased to hear that all UK Passport Offices have photo booths available for your use. This will come at a charge which will depend on the area and some may only take cash so be sure you have some spare coins.
Please be aware however that taking new photographs on the day of your appointment may not be useful if you need your photos countersigned as part of your application.
Need more information?
Talk to the Passport Office team
Lines open 9am-5:30pm
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Our blog is full of useful tips and interesting facts about the world of Passports and Travel.
Passports Office provides relevant information about new passports, renewing an existing passport, and the contact details of key UK passport offices.