With an increased awareness of gender and individual choice, many people are asking if they can apply to have a gender-neutral passport. Here we look as this and other changes such as changing gender and if you need to inform the passport office that you've got married, entered a civil partnership, got divorced or simply moved homes.
All these are issues that need to be dealt with in advance to ensure your passport is legal for travel abroad for holidays and business.
Can I ask for a gender neutral passport?
The UK Supreme Court decided in 2021 that having a gender-neutral passport was not an option for British citizens. The court stated that the gender of a passport applicant is “a biographical detail which can be used to confirm their identity by checking it against the birth, adoption or gender recognition certificates provided and other official records". Supreme Court President Robert Reed continued: “It is, therefore, the gender recognised for legal purposes and recorded in those documents which is relevant.”
However, some countries, including the United States, Canada and Denmark, have already, or plan to, offer passports with non-binary gender markers for their citizens who identify as neither strictly female nor male.
Can I change my gender on my passport?
If changing your gender on your passport, you will need to apply for a new document and send some additional documentation. When applying for the new travel document you’ll be asked to send one of the following:
- a Gender Recognition Certificate – you can apply for this here if you don’t have it yet
- a new birth or adoption certificate showing your acquired gender
- a letter from your doctor or medical consultant confirming your change of gender is likely to be permanent
If you choose the option of sending a letter from your doctor or medical consultant, you will also be asked to send both of the following document:
- evidence of your change of name (this could include deed poll)
- evidence that you’re using your new name (for example a payslip, or a letter from your local council)
There is further information about changing your name on your passport for transgender and transsexual people here.
Do I need to tell the passport office that I have moved?
There is good news for those who have changed address is that they will not need to let the Passport Office know. Your address is not linked to the document so no action is needed. The passport is linked to you only – not where you live.
Do I need to change my passport after getting married or entering a civil partnership?
You will need to get a new passport if you are changing your name after a marriage or civil partnership. This can be done before or after the ceremony.
If you want a new document before the ceremony, you can apply for it up to three months before your marriage or civil partnership ceremony takes place. The old passport will be cancelled and the new one will be post-dated and will not be valid before the ceremony, so bear this in mind if you need to travel beforehand.
Some countries refuse to issue visas if you have a post-dated document, so make sure you check with the embassy of the country before going ahead with getting the new passport.
If you want to apply for the new document before the ceremony, you will need to fill out and send a ‘passports for newlyweds and civil partners’ form. This will need to be signed by the official who is to conduct the ceremony.
Those looking to get the name changed in their passport after a wedding or civil partnership should send their marriage or civil partnership certificate when applying for a new passport as normal – this includes those who are choosing to use a double-barrelled surname to include their original name. You can apply for the new document online here.
READ MORE ON PASSPORTS
Do I need to inform the passport office I have got divorced?
If you change your name after getting divorced, you will need to apply for a new passport. You will also need to send some additional documentation.
You will need to send the following:
- your birth certificate
- a statement signed by you saying you’ve gone back to a previous surname (for example your maiden name) ‘for all purposes’ - that is, you will not use your married or civil partnership name at all
- a document that shows you’re using your new name (for example a payslip, or a letter from your local council)
- your decree absolute or final order showing both names
- a marriage or civil partnership certificate showing both names - if you do not have it you can order a copy of this here
My appearance has changed – do I need to get a new passport?
On the whole, changes such as dyeing your hair or getting glasses won’t need to be reported to HM Passport office, but some changes such as types of cosmetic or reconstructive surgery, for example, will need to be declared. Take a look at our full guide to physical changes that do and don’t require a new passport here.
READ MORE: HOW MUCH DOES A NEW PASSPORT COST?
I have become a doctor – will this new title, and any others, need to be changed on my passport?
You can change your title to the likes of Dr, Professor, JP, or military decorations if you like, but it is not mandatory.
Simply add it to the ‘Other title’ box when applying to replace your passport. It won’t be part of your name, but will appear on the ‘observations’ page of the document.
Only a title of nobility – Lord, Dame etc. will appear with your name on the passport.
Do I need to report that I have gained dual nationality?
No – you do not need to tell HM Passport Office that you have gained dual nationality.
However, some countries do not allow people to have dual nationality, so you would need to apply to renounce your British citizenship if this was the case for the nation you were becoming a member of. You will need to be of sound mind and over-18 to do this. Find out more here about renouncing British citizenship.
Do I need to tell the Passport Office that I am emigrating?
Again, there is no need to tell HM Passport Office that you are emigrating because you remain a British citizen unless you renounce it - see above.
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Author: Pete Barden:
Pete Barden is a qualified journalist who has written and produced for publications including The Sun (thesun.co.uk), New Statesman Media Group, Whatcar? (Whatcar.com) Stuff Magazine (Stuff.tv), Fastcar Magazine (Fastcar.co.uk), Maxim Magazine and UK broadcast stations within the Heart network (Formerly GCAP). Pete specialises in motoring and travel content, along with news and production roles. You can find out more about Pete Barden on LinkedIn.