Passport news: Who is allowed to sign for your travel document photo in the UK?
Passport photos are essential for correctly identifying the owner of the travel documents.
They serve to prevent others stealing your identity, so it is important they are an accurate reflection of what you look like.
While everyone must provide photos with their passport application, sometimes it is necessary to get another person to sign one of the two passport photos you send.
This is the case when someone is applying for their first passport (adult or child), replacing their passport after it is lost, stolen or damaged, or for a passport renewal of a child under 11.
It is also the case if someone’s appearance has changed substantially since their last passport photos.
The person signing your passport application form and photo, also known as the countersignature, must fulfil a number of requirements.
One of these is they must have known the person applying for at least two years.
This is slightly different if it is an adult applying for a child under 16’s passport – the person must be known to the adult for two years instead.
They must be able to identify the person who is applying, too – so a distant colleague won’t cut it, but a friend, neighbour or close colleague will.
However, if you thought you could just get a family member to sign it, then think again as this is not allowed.
The counter signatory cannot be anyone you’re related to, in a relationship with or married to.
The tight guidelines also rule out anyone who lives at the same address as you, so anyone you share a house or flat with.
Recently, a woman stopped at passport control after losing eight stone since her last photo was taken spoke out to the media.
Nikki Jermain, a bank manager, had her photo examined by the security officer who asked her if she owned the passport.
“He didn’t seem convinced and asked me for other photo ID which I didn’t have,” she said.
Eventually, after 10 minutes, Nikki was let through – and she has since decided she needs to change her passport photo.