Our new passports arrived! I’m not sure what I’m missing, as every official bit of info says the post-Brexit colour is blue, but this definitely looks black to me. Not gonna lie…much as I’d still prefer burgundy, the blue-black is pretty smart, and I like the embossed national symbols on the back.
When I posted on Instagram about saying goodbye to the passport that served me so well during 10 years of expat life and travel, it raised a few questions. So I thought I’d share the lowdown on the whole process of renewing a UK passport from overseas, in case it’s useful for you. (Or satisfies your curiosity!)
In the past we’ve always renewed our passports by making an appointment for a one-day turnaround at the Glasgow passport office, to fit in with visits home. This time I thought I would just have to make a trip to Copenhagen instead…
But it turns out I could do everything easily online, so no exciting city excursions for me. Oh well. I have to hand it to whoever designed the user interface at gov.uk, because personally I always find it very user-friendly and crystal clear. Hopefully that’s the same for everyone; there seems to be good consideration for accessibility needs
Rather than filling in a form, you’re led step-by-step through the required info, one question at a time. You need to have your existing passport information handy, and possibly also birth certificates or marriage certificates.
There is the option to either upload a digital photo or insert a code that you would get from a passport photo service. Before shops closed here, I had gone into a local photographer for photos, and only afterwards realised I had left with the printed photos but not been offered any digital code. Too old-school for the UK passport office!
Taking the photos at home with my phone turned out to be even easier. The instructions on the website for how to make sure your photos are acceptable are really clear. With a plain wall opposite a window, we took photos that the website judged as meeting the criteria.
Once the applications were accepted and paid for (with an additional charge for courier delivery) I had to send the old passports, along with an identity confirmation form for my son. There is also the option to supply an email address of someone in the UK who has agreed to do this for you, but I chose to ask a UK passport holder we know here in Denmark. I could print the form with my son’s photo already on it.
I sent the documents by tracked post (rekommanderet brev) but annoyingly the two applications were being processed in two different offices, doubling this expense (because, Denmark) to 300dkk.
Throughout the process HMPO sent clear emails reminding me what to send, letting me know when they received our documents, when the applications were approved, and when the old and new passports were on their way. (Couriered with DHL.)
The website said it would take 4 weeks for a renewal application from Denmark. From the time I posted our documents (a few days after completing the online process), it took 2 weeks for my new passport to arrive. My son’s arrived in just over 3 weeks. In both cases the old passports arrived a couple of days later, with corners snipped off for archiving.
Honestly, before I started I was dreading a complicated process, but it turned out that renewing our passports from overseas, in the middle of a pandemic, as newly non-EU citizens, was stress free, albeit bittersweet.
Of course, waiting for a passport to arrive when you have travel coming up is always stressful, so lockdown was a good time to do it. Maybe now is a good time to check your own passport, since you might have not had it in front of you for a long time! Does it still have 6 months’ validity left? For almost all travel now as a UK passport holder, that’s what you need.
Let’s hope these new ones won’t be staying in the drawer for much longer.
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