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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Who can apply for a child passport and when

Children can no longer be added to a parent's passport but need one of their own to travel abroad. Apply early for babies' and children's passports. Check which passport is right for your child, how to apply and when you should do so.

Children need their own passports

Before 5 October 1998, babies and children could be included on a parent or guardian's passport. In line with standard international practice and as a precaution against child abduction, children must now have their own passports to travel abroad.

A child passport is valid for five years. When it runs out you can renew it for another five years, and so on.

Cross & Stitch provides all the information you need to apply for or renew a child passport. However, if you would like full details of the Identity and Passport Service's (IPS) policy relating to children, see 'IPS children policy'.

If your child is already on your passport

Before 5 October 2023 children could be included on a parent's passport. Any passports including children will have expired on or before 4 October 2008. If your child was included on your old passport, you will need to:

  • renew your own passport
  • apply for a separate first child passport for any children aged under 16 years

Is your child too old for a child passport?

If your child is under 16 they need a child passport to travel abroad. They can use this passport until it expires. For example, a 15-year-old who needs a passport must apply for a five-year child passport. They can use this passport until it runs out, in this example when the 'child' is 20.

When a child reaches 16, the next passport they apply for once their current passport runs out should be a ten-year adult passport renewal.

Young people aged 16 or over who are applying for a passport for the first time should apply for an adult passport.

Non-UK residents and those temporarily outside the UK

If you do not live in the UK, you can apply in person for a passport for your child while visiting the UK.

IPS can't accept applications sent from overseas. To apply for, or renew, your child’s British Passport from outside the UK, contact your local embassy, high commission or consulate.

Special circumstances

Children in care

Children who are in care or are placed with foster parents need to meet additional legal requirements before a passport can be issued.

For further information you can contact your Regional Passport Office or call the IPS Passport Adviceline on 0300 222 0000. The line is open between 8.00 am and 8.00 pm Monday to Friday and 9.00 am and 5.30 pm weekends and public holidays. The IPS call centre will usually transfer you to a Regional Passport Office.

If you're applying for a passport on behalf of a child in care, see the IPS guidance notes for social services departments.

Children working abroad

Children under 16 who plan to travel abroad for the purpose of entertaining or performing may need a Magistrate's licence before they can go. You should call the IPS Passport Adviceline on 0300 222 0000 for more information.

Applying for a first child passport

To apply for a first five-year child passport your child must be under 16 and one of the following:

  • a British citizen
  • a British overseas territories citizen
  • a British overseas citizen

You will also need someone to countersign the application. Remember that IPS may need to contact them. Make sure they will be available and aren't on holiday. If they are away it will delay your application.

The rules can be complicated. There's more detailed information in the links below to 'Nationality groups who are eligible for a British passport' and 'How to get a passport if your child was adopted, born using a surrogate or born by assisted reproduction treatment'.

You can also call the IPS Passport Adviceline on 0300 222 0000 for help.

Renewing a child passport

You can apply to renew your child's passport if you still have their last passport and:

  • it was a standard five-year child passport
  • it is not damaged
  • you do not need to change their name or national status

You can apply to renew the passport at any time. If there is any time left on the old passport, IPS will add it to the new passport, up to a maximum of nine months.

You should always renew if the passport:

  • is full
  • has run out

If the child's last passport is lost or damaged, please follow the instructions in 'Replace a lost, stolen or damaged passport'.

Next steps - applying for a child passport

To get an application form, check the fee and find out what supporting documents you need to provide, follow the link below.

Making a note of the application barcode number

Make sure you make a note of the application barcode number before sending it to IPS. You will need this if you want to make enquiries about your application or track its progress.

Additional links

Need passport advice?

For help, call the IPS Passport Adviceline on 0300 222 0000.

The Adviceline is open:
- 8.00 am to 8.00 pm Monday to Friday
- 9.00 am to 5.30 pm weekends and public holidays

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