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How to Apply for a British Passport From Outside The UK: Step-by-Step Application Guide

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on applying for your first British passport from outside the UK. Obtaining your British passport will solidify your status as a citizen of the United Kingdom, as well as bestowing you benefits associated with a British passport, as was explored in our previous blog. In this article we will steer you through each essential step of the British passport application process. From understanding eligibility criteria to gathering required documents, confirming your identity, and managing processing times and fees, we’ll ensure that you have all the necessary information to navigate the British passport application process with confidence. 

We have discussed in our previous post here the steps to follow after a British Citizenship application has been granted. There are different ways to acquire British Citizenship and these can be by Naturalisation, Registration or Automatic Acquisition

Who Can Apply for a First British Passport Outside the UK?

You can apply for a first British passport from outside the UK if you:

  • Have never had a British passport before; or
  • Were included as a child on someone else’s passport; or
  • Are renewing a passport that is handwritten; or
  • Have become a British national by naturalisation or registration.

Please also see our previous post: How to Apply for a British Passport: Step-by-Step Application Guide for further information on eligibility in general for a British passport, potential reasons for refusals, and First British Passport Applications for a Child (excluding the fees).

Ways to Apply for a British Passport From Overseas

There are different ways to apply for a British passport from outside the UK.  You can apply online, or, alternatively, you can use a paper application form, which is called the OS application form. For some countries you may have to apply in person. 

Documents Required When Applying for a British Passport Abroad

The documentation you will require will depend on your individual circumstances. Our immigration barristers can advise you on which documents would be applicable in your circumstances. Below is a summary of the general documents that may be required, but expert advice should always be sought.

Born before 01/01/83  (if applicable)

  • Your birth/adoption certificate (if applicable) 

Born on or after 01/01/83 (if applicable)

  • Your ‘full’ birth certificate or adoption certificate that shows your parent’s details (the ‘short’ version which is issued for free by the registrar is not acceptable) (if applicable) 

If you have naturalised or registered as a British citizen (if applicable)

  • Your certificate of naturalisation or registration and the passport that you used to come into the UK and any foreign passport you hold or are included on.

2 recent identical photographs 

A full colour copy of any other uncancelled passports relating to you

Change of name documents (if applicable)

You should provide 3 documents as evidence of your name in current use dated within the last year, and at least one of the following for each change of name that has taken place. A list of examples can be found at Table D of the “Guidance Applying for a passport from outside the UK: supporting documents (group 3) (accessible)”.

If you are going back to your maiden or unmarried name, you also need to provide all of the following:

  • A signed statement saying that you now use your maiden name for all purposes.
  • Your birth certificate and either:
  • A decree absolute showing both names or;
  • A marriage certificate showing both names.

Identity documents

You must provide a minimum of 3 documents as evidence of name and address and/or residency. A full list of examples can be found at Table A of the “Guidance Applying for a passport from outside the UK: supporting documents (group 3) (accessible)”.

Other documents (if applicable)

If you are applying from a country that is not the country where you were born.

You must provide:

  • The passport or travel document that you used to travel to your country of residence, and
  • An explanation of why you are not applying in your country of birth

Documents relating to your parent’s status at the time of your birth

You must provide:

Evidence of your grandparents’ claim to British nationality by providing their birth certificates and, in the case of grandfathers, the marriage certificate to your grandmother. This does not apply if your parent’s British nationality is based on registration, naturalisation or their immigration status. If you were born in the UK to settled parents, you will need to provide evidence of their immigration status at the time of your birth. 

Confirming Your Identity

A countersignatory is someone who can confirm your identity (and confirm that the photograph is you), and confirm the details in your application are correct. They need to fill in section 10 of the form, give their passport number, sign the box, and give their full address and contact details.

The countersignatory must:

  • Have known you personally for at least 2 years (for example, a friend, neighbour or colleague, and not someone who is related to you or only knows you professionally);
  • Be a professional person (please see occupations for countersignatories);
  • Live in the UK;
  • Hold a current British or Irish passport.

The countersignatory must not:

  • Be related to you by birth or marriage (including in-laws or partners of family members);
  • Be in a personal relationship with you;
  • Live at your address;
  • Work for HM Passport Office;
  • Or be a doctor or General Practitioner (GP), unless they state that they know you well (e.g. good friend) and that they recognise you easily from your photo.

Identity Interviews

The HM Passport Office may ask anyone to attend an identity interview.  The interview will help to confirm your identity, legitimise your passport application, and reduce identity fraud.

The HM Passport Office will contact you if you need to have an identity interview. Their email/letter will explain how to make an appointment, and give options on where your interview can take place. Interviews can be held in the UK or overseas over a video link connection. Your interview will be carried out in English and your email/letter will give important information so you know what to expect and what you need to do next. This includes what you need to bring such as any additional documents. 

British Passport Overseas Application Fees

At the time of writing, the Home Office fees for a British passport application submitted outside the UK are as follows:

Online applications fees:

  • £101.00 for an Adult (16 and over) standard passport;
  • £113.00 for an Adult or veteran Frequent Traveller Passport;
  • £65.50 for a Child (under 16) standard passport;
  • £77.50 for a Child Frequent Traveller Passport.

Postal applications fees:

  • £112.50 for an Adult (16 and over) standard passport application;
  • £124.50 for an Adult or veteran Frequent Traveller Passport;
  • £77.00 for a Child (under 16) standard passport;
  • £89.00 for a Child Frequent Traveller Passport.

These costs may differ depending on which country you are applying from. 

Premium services and fast track service fees have not been published online for those applying outside the UK. 


The fee is set in pounds sterling and payable at the time of applying. You will have to pay a courier fee to cover the cost of the return of your new passport and supporting documents. 

In some countries where you have to apply in person, the courier fee will cover the cost

of forwarding your application to the UK for processing and the cost of returning the new passport to a local office, for you to collect. 

Home Office Guidance also states: 

Online applications: “by debit or credit card in pounds sterling (HM Passport Office accepts only Mastercard, Visa, Electron, Diners Club and JCB)”

Postal applications: “by debit or credit card mandate (a mandate – authorisation – form)

In person applications: “by debit or credit card mandate except for countries where, due to local laws, customers must pay in cash”. “Customers overseas will use local currency if paying in person. (The pounds sterling fee will be converted to the local currency amount at the exchange rate when the customer applies.)”

Processing Times for a British Passport Application Outside the UK

The processing time starts from the date that the HM Passport Office receives the initial documents requested at the time of your application.

There is no published processing time for British passport applications made outside the UK. We estimate that the processing time may take anywhere between 4 weeks to 24 weeks, depending on the country you are applying from. An estimation of the processing time should be given by the HM Passport Office if applying online. 

If you are asked for further information or documents or invited for an identity interview this may prolong the process. You will need to send missing or additional documents within 6 weeks. If you do not send the documents in 6 weeks your application will be withdrawn and you will not be eligible for a refund. 

Contact our Immigration Barristers

In this post we have highlighted some of the key factors to note when applying for a British passport from outside the UK.

For expert advice regarding British nationality or assistance with making a British passport application, contact our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.


To arrange an initial consultation meeting, call our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or fill out the form below.

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