27 July 2011

British Passport renewal made EASY in South Africa

If you have to renew your British Passport (or apply for a new one) then you'll probably be as oblivious to the procedure as I was before I'd had to do it for myself. Not even knowing where to start, the logical first choice is to make use of one of these passport services to get the job done - after all, it should save you some time and these guys know their business and probably have connections to get things fast-tracked, right?

Well, as it turns out, not really. I concede that these passport services are really helpful and knowledgeable about what the procedure entails but specifically with my experience with a British Passport renewal, I don't think they're worth the cost or the time and effort of going down to their offices because you can actually do everything besides the photographs (unless you're skillful enough) from the comfort of your home.

From start to finish my entire application took under three weeks to be done (6 July to 22 July) and I did it all myself. I am now once again the proud owner of a British Passport and am a bona fide British Citizen! Doing it yourself will save you a good deal of money (it's not pocket change by any stretch so if you found my blog post useful feel free to send me 10% of your savings) and actually save you some time too.

Since this post is about the EASY way(s) to renew your passport I have included both information on passport services that offer the luxury of doing it for you as well as the DIY method which I recommend.

The first thing you will need to know is that my method may differ slightly from yours because I am a full-blown UK citizen with right of abode and am in possession of my own (expired) passport. The methods listed below will probably be the same for most of you but just in case they're not, I am very keen to update this post if you have a different experience so feel free to leave comments below. Everything I needed is highlighted in red font so keep an eye out for these if you are renewing your passport and already have your current or expired one.

The procedure - in summary
  1. Fill in the required forms
    1. http://centralcontent.fco.gov.uk/resources/en/pdf/central-content-pdfs/form-c1.pdf
    2. http://centralcontent.fco.gov.uk/resources/en/pdf/central-content-pdfs/form-c1-notes.pdf
  2. You will need to sign an online credit card authorisation form if you're paying by credit card. 
  3. Get the photographs taken
    1. Find someone upstanding to be a countersignatory and make sure you follow the correct guidelines (below)
  4. Submit via courier - they recommend Supaswift (pty) Ltd and I used them. R220 for their basic fee. I applied online in the evening on Wednesday 6 July and they came to collect Thursday noon and again on Friday morning (diligent!)
    1. Durbanites and Port Elizabethans can also make use of the British Cultural & Heritage Association (bcha1820@global.co.za) to courier their documentation once a month in a group bag. Contacts are 031 202 6174 and 041 585 3416 respectively.
  5. They claim that it takes around 4 weeks and if you want to follow progress, phone Careline on 0044 208 082 4743 but have your credit card ready because it costs 72p+VAT per minute! My application took fewer than 3 weeks.
That's it, in a nutshell! The more detailed procedure of how to do each of these steps is listed below. I confess I have hotlinked other sites' forms in my post but have referenced them at the bottom.
Cost fluctuates depending on the exchange rate but the most up-to-date figures I could find were here:
Currently it's +/-R1,500.00 for a 32-page Biometric UK passport. 

Main site for information
There are plenty of links referenced at the end but the main one to concern yourself with is this one:

What you'll need for British Passport Renewal

  1. Original current or expired British Passport. If you don't have this you will need to fill in some additional forms (lost passport forms: http://www.passportandvisaonline.com/visaforms/ls01.pdf).
  2. One passport application completed, printed and signed by both the applicant and a countersignatory.
  3. Two recent passport type photographs in colour, front view, full face, with a light background. One photo must be endorsed on the back by a countersignatory with the statement "I certify that this is a true likeness of [applicant name]" and signed by the person who is endorsing the photo.
    1. Guidelines for photographs are available here: http://www.traveldocs.com/UKPassports/photos.pdf

Depending on what you're doing you will need different forms. It's worth pointing out that I didn't use the latest version of the form and I was still successful. Print it out and fill it in in black ink.

If you need to travel urgently you can print out your itinerary and submit that with a copy of your airline ticket or corporate letter stating travel plans (if applicable) - this will ensure requests are processed sooner than 2 to 3 weeks.

Useful links
Here are some of the sites you can visit for more information.


Brian said...

From another Brit, your info most useful to have latest passport renewal info as so many changes in proceedure occuring difficult to keep track just recently, thanks Brian B.

Sebastian Dunn said...
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Sebastian Dunn said...
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Sebastian Dunn said...

Hi Brian
Brilliant and informative blog- thanks!

This note comes over a year later than your last post on the subject but perhaps you know the answer to my question.
I will be applying for a new Brit Passport (I'm South African with a British citizen passport)which is due to expire soon. When you applied did you have to send your citizenship certificate along with your old passport or just your passport? Section 1b of the C1 form requests a certificate number- which I don't have. When I got my passport a few years back I received just the passport which says British Citizen but no actual citizenship certificate or number.
Any info would be useful.
Many thanks,

Kirsten Du Toit said...

Hi Brian
I've recently been told that I have to reapply with all documentation for an expired passport. Does anyone know if this is correct?

BrYan (aka Brattex) said...

Sorry Sebastian, I missed your post - I was out of action and forgot to reply :(

@Kirsten, my passport was expired in 2010 and I renewed it in 2011 so unless things have changed, my experience is the same as yours ...

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For UK US passport renewal, you can also try this site: http://www.surevisamanila.com/.

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Maylene Kim May said...

I applied for my passport and did not have all my info and so i forfeited the payment, which sucks but now I have to start all over again, which is why I was thinking i should, as a first time applicant go to an agent who can assist, as I do not want to mess this up again. Any suggestions?

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Ruth Linington said...

Hi Bryan. Yesterday was the first time I tried the online application and it was fantastic. Easy and so quick. So - everything is printed and ready to go - except I don't have a countersignatory with a British or Irish passport! So now what? It's not like I can HIRE someone to sign the forms either. So flipping upset. By the way - I grew up in Durban :)

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Hi Bryan, I currently reside in South Africa and I need to apply for a name change on my existing British passport. Before I do the necessary I need some advice - I cant find it online. I remarried recently and to want to change my passport name into my new married name. My current passport is still in my ex married name. The Uk.Gov site said it was not necessary for me to inform them of the divorce. However now with the name change due to remarrying what documents do I need to submit other than my new marriage certificate? Do I need to provide my divorce order from my previous marriage? I dont want to assume that I wouldn't need to. I look forward to your response. Thanks Karen

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