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McGill & Co is a Scottish immigration law firm specialising in UK immigration, nationality and refugee law.

Renewing British passports from abroad: what do I need to know?

14 July 2021 James Ritchie Blog


If you are a British Citizen working and living abroad and you are looking to renew your passport, you may be wondering how you are able to do this in the country you currently call home. Traditionally, when renewing a British passport, you would complete physical forms and then send them off to Her Majesty’s Passport Office but that has all changed in recent times and the first point to note is that the process is now completely online.

This should make the undertaking easier, however in reality there are a number of logistical hurdles. The purpose of this blog is to highlight some of these issues.

COVID-19 has become a byword for administrative delay. That being said, each of the problems below existed before the pandemic.

  • The online application cannot be saved. This means that if you do not have all of the required information and have to source this over a number of days, you will need to start again. It is important to make sure you have all required data before beginning the application. It may be worth going through the application with dummy answers, so you are able to have an advance look at what you need to find out before completing the final application.
  • You will be required to submit a digital photo online. The requirements for a suitable passport photo have always been stringent, and the online application procedure is no different. It would be prudent to read the rules on what is acceptable here.
  • Upon submitting an application for a new passport, you will be required to submit your current document. This may seem obvious, but it is worth keeping in mind that you could be waiting several months where you will be without a passport. It may be worth sourcing an alternative document to evidence your ID for use during the interim.
  • Sending a passport overseas can be something of a nightmare in of itself. Make sure you use a service which includes some form of insurance in case of loss.

The government webpage currently states that an application for a passport should take up to 10 weeks. Whilst this may be true for the most part, an applicant should make allowances for COVID-19 (administrative delay). 

If you would like more information on the rules related to this topic and legal advice tailored to your situation, we offer consultations and a full application service to provide advice and assistance on the best course of action to take to secure your British passport. Get in touch here.


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