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Countersigning Passport Applications

The process of countersigning passport applications and photos helps to prove identity. So, who can countersign passport application forms and photographs and what do they need to do?

When You Need a Signature of a Countersignatory

A ‘countersignatory’ is a qualified person who signs a passport application form and photo on behalf of the applicant.

The purpose of having someone else sign the documents is to prove the identity of the person who is making the application.

Which Passport Applications Need Countersigning?

In most cases, you will need to send in an application form and two (2) photos to get a passport. The form, and one of the photographs will need signing by a countersignatory when applying for a:

Who Can Sign the Form and the Photograph?

If you are using a countersignatory as part of a passport application, the person that you use must:

  • Have known the applicant for at least two (2) years. The same applies if an adult signed the passport application form for a child under the age of 16.
  • Be able to identify the person who is applying for the passport. Typical examples include a friend, a work colleague, or a neighbour. It cannot be someone that only knows the applicant in a professional capacity.
  • Be ‘a person of good standing in their community’. They can also be working in (or retired from) a recognised profession (see below).

The person who gives their signature cannot be closely-related to, or have an involvement with, the applicant. So, for example, they must not be:

  • Related by birth, or by marriage, to the person who is applying.
  • Be in a relationship with, or live at the same address as, the person who is applying.

Applications made in the United Kingdom

If you make the application in the UK, the countersignatory must be living in the United Kingdom. They must also hold a valid British or Irish passport.

Applying Outside of the United Kingdom

A countersignatory must hold a current British, Irish, or other EU, US, or Commonwealth passport if an application gets made outside the United Kingdom.

What if they have a US, Commonwealth, or non-British or non-Irish EU passport? In this case, you must include a colour photocopy of the page that shows their photograph with your application.

Note: In some cases, not having a British or Irish passport can slow down the passport application process.

What a Countersignatory Must Do with the Form

The person you use as a countersignatory must check all the details are correct after you fill in the form. They must then sign your application form. Their signature on the document means they are confirming that:

  • They have known the applicant for more than two (2) years.
  • The applicant is who they claim to be.
  • To the best of their knowledge, all the information that the applicant put on the form is true.

Note: The countersignatory must also insert their passport number on the passport application form.

What a Countersignatory Must Write on the Photograph

Anyone who is acting as a countersignatory should write a statement on the back of one photo. The statement should say:

“I certify that this is a true likeness of [the title and full name of adult or child who is getting the passport].”

The countersignatory must add their signature and the date underneath the statement on the photo. Even so, the applicant does not need to sign or date their own photographs.

If HM Passport Office Contact the Countersignatory

HM Passport Office might contact the countersignatory to get further information. If so, it may delay a passport application if the person is unavailable (e.g. they are taking a vacation).

Accepted Occupations for Passport Countersignatories

If you act as a countersignatory for another person you must either:

  • Be ‘a person of good standing in their community’.
  • Work in (or be retired from) a recognised profession.

List of Recognised Professions

Typical examples of a recognised profession include:

People Not Accepted as a Countersignatory

HM Passport Office will ask you to find an alternative if your countersignatory fails to meet the requirements. You can contact Passport Adviceline if you need help with countersigning passport application forms and photographs.

Passport Adviceline
Telephone: 0300 222 0000
Outside the UK: +44 (0)300 222 0000
Textphone: 18001 0300 222 0222
Monday to Friday: 8am to 8pm
Weekends and public holidays: 9am to 5:30pm

Note: Making a false declaration on a passport application is a criminal offence in the United Kingdom.

Countersigning Passport Applications and Photographs in the United Kingdom