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
- Fill in the required forms
- You will need to sign an online credit card authorisation form if you're paying by credit card.
- Get the photographs taken
- Find someone upstanding to be a countersignatory and make sure you follow the correct guidelines (below)
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.
What you'll need for British Passport Renewal
- 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).
- One passport application completed, printed and signed by both the applicant and a countersignatory.
- 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.
- 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.
Here are some of the sites you can visit for more information.
- C1 Form (slightly different so not sure which one to recommend; I used an older form and it was accepted)
- GOOGLE will easily find you a bunch of links. First port of call IMHO.
- General guidelines
- Photograph guidelines
- Passport services (There are so many online it's impossible to list them all but here are a few to get you started but even if you don't use them, visit their sites to get tips on what information and forms you need ... if you're lucky you can download the forms from their site)
- http://www.travisa.com/ is very helpful in finding out all sorts of information. There's a drop box at the top left which lets you select your destination, citizenship, and purpose of visit and then it will tell you what you need to gain entry (but it is limited to a small number of citizenships).
- For non-US information go to http://www.travisa.com/nonuscitizen.asp
- SOUTH AFRICAN SERVICES:
- Bunny Hop services were extremely helpful in getting us started. In the end we opted to do it ourselves because the cost would have been almost double to use an agent but if you don't want to hassle yourself (and I repeat: it's not a hassle at all and is probably more hassle to use an agent), I highly recommend Bunny Hop for assistance.