Who can sign passport photos for me and my kids?

Who can sign a passport photo for me, my children or baby?

Who can sign a passport photo for me, my children or a baby is an essential question to help avoid delays obtaining a new or renewed document - travel journalist and expert Pete Barden explains who can and can't sign your photos.

Can a friend countersign a passport photo, or maybe a manager at work? What about countersigning a passport photo for a child, can a teacher or teaching assistant sign for them? We look at the 45 listed people and professions that can sign a photo declaration for your passport application, or that of a child or baby. Here is who can sign your blue passport photosHere we list the people and professions who can sign your passport photos (Credit Alan Barth / Flickr)

When do I need to get a passport photo signed for me, my children or baby?

You - or a child you're applying for - will need to get two photos and the application form signed if any of the following apply:

First adult passport
First child passport
Replacement for a lost, stolen or damaged passport
Renewal of a passport for a child aged 11 or under
Renewal of a passport if your appearance has changed and you can't be recognised from your existing passport

Who can sign the photo and form for me, my children or baby?

Before anything else, the person must comply with the following:

1) Have known the person applying (or the adult who signed the form if the passport is for a child under 16) for at least 2 years
2) Be able to identify the person applying, eg they're a friend, neighbour or colleague (not just someone who knows them professionally)
3) Be 'a person of good standing in their community' or work in (or be retired from) a recognised profession. See below.

If applying in the UK the countersignatory must:

1) Live in the UK
2) Have a current British or Irish passport

If applying outside the UK the countersignatory must:

Hold a valid British, Irish or other EU, US or Commonwealth passport.
If the persons holds a US, Commonwealth, or non-British or non-Irish EU passport, your application must include a colour photocopy of the page with their photograph on it.

Tip: Choosing someone with a British or Irish passport will ensure your application is processed faster.

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Recognised professions that can countersign passport photos for me, my children or baby

Choose a person - either working or retired - from one of these professions to sign your passport photos.

  1. Accountant
  2. Airline pilot
  3. Articled clerk of a limited company
  4. Assurance agent of recognised company
  5. Bank/building society official
  6. Barrister
  7. Chairman/director of limited company
  8. Chiropodist
  9. Commissioner for oaths
  10. Councillor, eg local or county
  11. Civil servant (permanent)
  12. Dentist
  13. Director/manager/personnel officer of a VAT-registered company
  14. Engineer - with professional qualifications Financial services intermediary, eg a stockbroker or insurance broker
  15. Fire service official
  16. Funeral director
  17. Insurance agent (full time) of a recognised company
  18. Journalist
  19. Justice of the Peace
  20. Legal secretary - fellow or associate member of the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs
  21. Licensee of public house
  22. Local government officer Manager/personnel officer of a limited company
  23. Member, associate or fellow of a professional body
  24. Member of Parliament
  25. Merchant Navy officer
  26. Minister of a recognised religion - including Christian Science
  27. Nurse - RGN or RMN
  28. Officer of the armed services
  29. Optician
  30. Paralegal - certified paralegal, qualified paralegal or associate member of the Institute of Paralegals
  31. Person with honours, eg an OBE or MBE
  32. Pharmacist
  33. Photographer - professional
  34. Police officer
  35. Post Office official
  36. President/secretary of a recognised organisation
  37. Salvation Army officer
  38. Social worker
  39. Solicitor
  40. Surveyor
  41. Teacher, lecturer
  42. Trade union officer
  43. Travel agent - qualified
  44. Valuer or auctioneer - fellows and associate members of the incorporated society
  45. Warrant Officers and Chief Petty Officers

(They must also satisfy the criteria listed above)

Who can't sign my passport photo?

Apart from people not working in a 'recognised profession' or not being 'a person of good standing in their community', official guidelines also bar the following from signing:

Your countersignatory can't...

  • Work for HM Passport Office;
  • Be a doctor, unless they state that they know you well (eg good friend) and that they recognise you easily from your photo.

Can a friend sign the passport photo for me?

Yes - providing the friend has known you and can recognise you - so an online friend you have never met in person is unlikely to count. The passport office says the person must 'be able to identify you, for example they’re a friend, neighbour or colleague (not just someone who knows you professionally)'.

Can a relative or partner sign my photo?

The person signing your passport photos cannot be:

  • Related by birth or marriage
  • Be in a relationship with or live at the same address as the person applying.

What does the countersignatory need to write on the back of the photo?

He or she must write the following on the back of one of the two photographs you send.
'I certify that this is a true likeness of [title and full name of adult or child who is getting the passport].' They must then sign and date the photo underneath the statement.

What else do I need to know about passport photo signing?

The person signing your form and photo could be contacted by HM Passport Office for additional information. The process could be delayed if they're not available - on holiday for example.

You will have to sign your passport if issued after 2017

HM Passport Office has started the introduction of UK passports that no longer include the holder's signature in digital format. The holder will instead be expected to sign the document after it has been issued to them - using a black ballpoint pen.

This is designed to speed up HM Passport Office's application system, by removing the need for signed paper forms and printed photographs. The system will be similar to systems used by the USA, France, Ireland, New Zealand and Canada. 

The new passports started being phased in from January 2017, meaning the digital format passport will be phased out during 2027.

A passport is not valid for travel without the inclusion of a signature.

Holder will need to sign above the pre-printed line above the page which shows their personal details such as name and date of birth.

Current passports will remain valid until their expiry date.

How much will the passport cost?

Passport prices are being increased in 2023. Find out a list of passport costs and and new fees here.

How long do I need left on my passport?

It is always advisable to find out how much validity is left on your current passport to see if you need to renew it. You can find out more on passport validity here.

How to contact the UK passport office on webchat?

If you need to get fast information on your passport, then logging on to HM Passport webchat could be the answer - if it it working. The official HM Passport Webchat can be found here.

Why do passport photos actually need to be signed?

Passport photos need a countersignatory in the UK to help prevent identity fraud. The countersignatory is someone who knows the applicant personally and can vouch for their identity. This helps to ensure that the person applying for the passport is who they say they are.

Countersignatories must be people who are in a position of trust, such as professionals, such as doctors, lawyers, teachers, and police officers. They must also have known the applicant for at least two years.

Not all passport applications require a countersignature. Only first-time adult passports, first child passports, replacement passports for lost, stolen, or damaged passports, renewals of passports for children under 11, and renewals of passports where the applicant's appearance has changed significantly require a countersignature.

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Author: Pete Barden:

Twitter: @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.

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