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British Passports, A Guide for Expats

Lisa Smith, BA (Hons), CeFA
By

If you are wondering what do about your British passport once you make your home in another country, then this guide is for you.

Here, how to apply for a British passport and how to renew a UK passport from overseas are explained.

You can also find out what to do if your British passport is lost or stolen while you are overseas.

Getting A British Passport

UK passport and a Globe

British expats can apply for, renew, and update their UK passports online from anywhere in the world.

The service is cheaper online and takes around six weeks to process a first adult passport and three weeks to renew or update a passport.

If you have an urgent need for a passport, such as if a relative has dies overseas, expats can apply for a UK passport or Emergency Travel Documents from the British Embassy or consulate where they are.

Apply for a passport from the UK government web site

A standard adult UK passport costs £75.50 online.

Reporting changes in your personal life

Not every personal change need reporting to the Passport Office.

3 Reasons You Should get a new passport:

  1. You change your name
  2. Your gender changes
  3. You alter your appearance, so you are unrecognisable from your passport photo

When you update your passport, the old one and any time left is cancelled, and you will be sent a new 10-year passport.

7 Reason You do not need to update a passport::

  1. Move home or change your phone number
  2. Change your job
  3. Change your appearance by growing a beard or altering your hairstyle
  4. Get divorced or married
  5. Become a doctor or professor or otherwise change title
  6. Become a dual national with the UK and another country
  7. Leave the UK as an expat

Passport photo rules

Image take from www.gov.uk/photos-for-passports/photo-requirements

You need a colour digital image that is in focus and measuring 750 pixels high x 600 pixels wide. The file size should be between 50KB and 10MB.

The image should be a head-and-shoulders image in front of a plain background with nothing one else in the frame.

The image of you – from the crown of your head to your chin – must be between 29mm and 34mm high. 

The image should be no more than a month old.

Other do’s and don’ts include:

  • Face towards the camera and look down the lens
  • Keep a straight face and your mouth closed
  • Open your eyes so they are clearly visible
  • Do not cover your face, including with your hair
  • Do not cover your head except for religious or medical reasons
  • Stand away from shadows
  • Do not wear sunglasses or tinted glasses. If you wear ordinary glasses make sure your eyes are visible and the lenses are clear of glare or reflections

Good and bad examples of digital photos

Image taken from www.gov.uk/photos-for-passports

Finding the right forms

If you are a British national applying for a UK passport from overseas, you can check the forms, prices and application details needed that apply to you online.

Reporting A Lost Or Stolen UK Passport

Lost Passport

If your passport is lost or stolen, then report the incident as soon as you can.

Go online and complete the form and make an application for a new one or Emergency Travel Documents if you need to travel within six weeks.

If you do not need to travel urgently, apply for a replacement passport which can take six weeks or more to arrive.

Cancel a lost or stolen British passport

To cancel your passport, complete the online form

Apply For Emergency Travel Documents

If you are abroad, have lost your passport but need to travel urgently, you can apply for an Emergency Travel Document.

You can ask for the document if:

  • You are British
  • You are not in the UK
  • Your passport is lost, damaged, full, has recently expired or is with a foreign embassy
  • You have no time to wait for a replacement
  • You can show your need is urgent

The application costs £100 is not refundable.

Check with your nearest British Embassy or consulate if you are eligible for Emergency Travel Documents If you are not a British citizen, but another kind of British national

Apply for an Emergency Travel Document from the UK government web site

What is an Emergency Travel Document?

The Emergency Travel Document lets the holder move between up to five countries.

Travel plans are printed on the document and if they change, you must apply for a new one.

Expats will still need visas to cross borders if they needed one with their passport.

UK Passports For Children

mother and child at the airport

British expats can apply for a UK passport for a child under 16 online from overseas.

The process is the same as for an adult passport.

Apply for a child’s UK passport

Face-to-Face UK Passport Help

If you have a problem with your UK passport that you cannot resolve online, you can try these contacts:

Contact the UK Passport Office

Webchat:

Open Monday to Friday: 8am to 8pm

Weekends and public holidays: 9am to 5:30pm

Speak to an adviser now

Phone:

From outside the UK:
+44 (0)300 222 0000

Open Monday to Friday: 8am to 8pm

Weekends and public holidays: 9am to 5:30pm

Post:

HM Passport Office
PO Box 767
Southport
PR8 9PW
United Kingdom

Online:

Online inquiry form for general advice

Contact a British Embassy or consulate

List of UK Embassies and Consulates worldwide

Get Financial Advice

We can put you in contact with a qualified specialist expat financial advisor based in your location. Click the button below to get the expert advice you need to make the best financial decisions.

Related Information

Below is a list of related articles you may find of interest.

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