You must have British nationality to apply for or hold a British passport. The Identity and Passport Service (IPS) is the Home Office department which issues passports to British citizens in the UK. British citizens abroad who wish to apply for a passport should contact their local embassy or consulate or the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Having British nationality does not guarantee you a passport. For example, you may not get a new passport (or your existing passport may be taken from you) if:
- you’re suspected of a serious crime and an arrest warrant has been issued
- a court order stops you having a UK passport or restricts your travel
- you’re on bail and bail conditions mean you cannot leave the UK
- you’ve been brought back to the UK before at the government’s expense and have not repaid what you owe
- you’ve received a European Union or United Nations order which restricts your travel
A passport can also be cancelled or not renewed if it’s for a child and there’s a court order in place stopping the child from leaving the UK.
Your eligibility and entitlement to a British passport will be considered when you apply.
Anyone applying for their first adult British passport is likely to have to attend an interview before their passport is issued and the whole process may take considerably longer than for a passport renewal. Applicants are advised not to make any firm travel arrangements before they receive their passport and to allow six weeks between the date of the application and the date on which they wish to travel.
Applicants who are renewing a passport or replacing an existing child’s passport with an adult one may make their application before the existing passport expires. Up to 9 months’ unexpired validity from the old passport may be credited to the new one.
The application form for UK passports can be collected from selected Post Offices or ordered online from the IPS website or via their telephone advice line. UK residents may also apply online through the website. However, forms cannot be downloaded because home printing equipment does not produce documents of a high enough resolution to be read by the IPS scanning equipment. In addition, there would be a greater risk of fraudulent applications if the whole process could be carried out online.
The application form comes with detailed instructions which should be followed carefully. The form should be completed in black ballpoint pen. Any sections which are not relevant to the applicant should simply be left blank.