The photo in my current passport is quite old (10+ years) so I figured it best to get a new one for my passport renewal. I will need it countersigned by somebody but I'm slightly unsure as to who I can ask.

Looking at the guidance in the booklet I can ask somebody "professional", with qualifications etc. so somebody at my workplace with a valid passport seems like a good idea. However another line says something about them needing to know me for two years.

If these two things go together it might be difficult since, as a contractor, I'm never in a job for two years or more. There are a couple of colleagues I have kept in touch with from previous jobs but they are scattered across the country so I cannot just "pop round". I suppose I could just mail a photo and a declaration for them to sign.

Would an IT Development Manager, Finance team member, QA/Test engineer be suitable people to countersign the photograph? My previous one was countersigned by my old headmaster!

  • I didn't think you needed a countersign for renewals. (If you've updated your driving license recently, they can use that photo too) – CMaster May 26 '16 at 13:05
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    @CMaster As far as I'm away, you do have to countersign photos. renewal of a passport if your appearance has changed and you can’t be recognised from your existing passport I'm guessing in 10+ years, the o/p has changed – Phorce May 26 '16 at 13:12
  • @Phorce but changed so much that the 10-year-old photographs aren't recognizably of the same person as the new photographs? It's possible but unlikely. – phoog May 26 '16 at 13:49
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    Assuming you're physically in the UK, go to the Post Office where passport applications are accepted and ask the clerk if you can still be recognized. It's my personal approach. – Gayot Fow May 26 '16 at 14:23
  • Oh, I hadn't thought about asking the clerk at the post office. My appearance hasn't changed so much I'm not recognisable, so this would be a good idea to try. Thanks! – VictorySaber May 26 '16 at 15:22

You may not need your passport photo countersigning.

If you can still be recognised between your old photos and your new ones, and you still have the passport, then you don't need to get your photos countersigned -From the official online passport application page:

Everyone must send two new photos, but if you've changed a lot and can't be recognised from the photo in your passport, then you'll also need to get one of your photos and your form countersigned.

Normal aging isn't considered a significant change and most people will still be recognisable.

There's also no mention of the need for countersigning on the gov.uk page about passport photos. Note that if you're filling in forms or getting advice from anywhere other than gov.uk, you're using a private company who may be trying to sell you something (including a "service" where they just repost your passport to the government Passport Office and charge you an extra fee for it).

If you're appearance has changed so much that you can not be recognised

If you do need a countersignature, there is a gov.uk page here detailing the process. It says that the person countersigning you must have known who you are for at least 2 years (note that although your contractor nature shifts around, there must be people who you worked with over 2 years ago who you can still contact) and either be ‘a person of good standing in their community’ (not defined) or from the following list of professions:

  • accountant
  • airline pilot
  • articled clerk of a limited company
  • assurance agent of recognised company
  • bank/building society official
  • barrister
  • chairman/director of limited company
  • chiropodist
  • commissioner for oaths
  • councillor, eg local or county
  • civil servant (permanent)
  • dentist
  • director/manager/personnel officer of a VAT-registered company
  • engineer - with professional qualifications
  • financial services intermediary, eg a stockbroker or insurance broker
  • fire service official
  • funeral director
  • insurance agent (full time) of a recognised company
  • journalist
  • Justice of the Peace
  • legal secretary - fellow or associate member of the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs
  • licensee of public house
  • local government officer
  • manager/personnel officer of a limited company
  • member, associate or fellow of a professional body
  • Member of Parliament
  • Merchant Navy officer
  • minister of a recognised religion - including Christian Science
  • nurse - RGN or RMN
  • officer of the armed services
  • optician
  • paralegal - certified paralegal, qualified paralegal or associate member of the Institute of Paralegals
  • person with honours, eg an OBE or MBE
  • pharmacist
  • photographer - professional
  • police officer
  • Post Office official
  • president/secretary of a recognised organisation
  • Salvation Army officer
  • social worker
  • solicitor
  • surveyor
  • teacher, lecturer
  • trade union officer
  • travel agent - qualified
  • valuer or auctioneer - fellows and associate members of the incorporated society
  • Warrant Officers and Chief Petty Officers

Going off the sheer length of the list, it seems to me your must have a personal or family friend, or a business associate who has known you for more than 2 years who fits in to one of these categories.

If you want to make sure everything goes smoothly

If you're unsure about any aspect of your application, the Post Office offers a service where they check over your application first to make sure everything is correct. It's a bit more expensive, but you avoid the risk of making a rejected application that way (and most offices that offer this service can also take the photos for you)

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  • Thank you, lots of info. I was using the pamphlet that comes with the application form pack rather than the website. – VictorySaber May 26 '16 at 15:23
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    @FooBar it can be a doctor but you must have more than a doctor-client relationship with this person. Also, they don't seem to worry too much about this; my mother, a factory employee, has signed successfully before. – Belle May 26 '16 at 17:16
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    @foobar doctors were on the list, but there were (umderstandable) complaints from GPs about having a lot of people tying up appointment slots just to get passport forms signed. So the government changed the regulations to mean they were no longer required to countersign these (& various similar documents) - see eg news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/1229449.stm - and I'm guessing this is why they're no longer on the list, to deter people from asking. (A number of practices will still do it, but charge a fee for their time.) – Andrew May 26 '16 at 17:58
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    ... I guess if chiropodists and other professions on that list ever complained of being the go-to profession for people who don't understand the rules properly, special steps would need to be taken for them too! – Steve Jessop May 26 '16 at 17:58
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    @FooBar most doctors (one hopes!) can sign as "persons of good standing in the community." I think the list is intended as a set of examples of what "good standing" means, not as a precise definition. But many people who are registered with a doctor in the UK may not ever have actually met him or her - for example if your doctor retires or relocates, you will be automatically re-registered with another doctor in the same practice, and you might not even know their name. – alephzero May 26 '16 at 18:19

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