How to get your first passport

Going abroad for the first time is exciting, but the tedious process of applying for your first passport fills many with dread. That’s why we’ve put together a simple step by step guide so that you’ll be jet setting in no time!

Online or paper?

First of all, decide whether you’re going to apply online or in paper form. Online applications are currently only marginally cheaper but will likely save time and the hassle of posting.

Find your documents!

You’re going to need to get digging in the attic and find your original identification documents. Depending on your circumstances this will usually include your birth certificate and one of your parents’ certificates, but you can find advice and a comprehensive list of the approved documents here.

Take a photo!

This photo is going to end up on your passport and it’s important to focus on meeting the very specific government requirements. When you’re getting ready to jet off, no one wants the hassle of sending a photo back and forth until it’s right, so at we cut out the middle man and do it all for you! Our system will analyse your picture and let you know if it fails to pass the high standards set out by the passport office. We can provide a digital image as well as posting high-quality prints to your door.

Know a professional

The application process requires your identity to be confirmed by a friend, neighbour or colleague who works in a recognised profession. This could be anything from an accountant to a pharmacist or a teacher. The exact process varies depending on whether you’re applying online or by paper, but the required steps will be fully outlined within your application.

Attend an interview

Now we know what you’re thinking, you want a holiday not a job, right? Don’t worry, these interviews are very straight forward and are just a way of making sure that you are exactly who you’ve said you are on your application. They last for around 30 minutes and you will simply be asked a few questions about yourself.

Following this your application will be processed and you’ll soon be jetting off on your adventure!

Photo: DSCF5575 by parkview094 licensed under Creative commons 5

Can I have a beard on my passport photo?

The beard has swung back into fashion in recent years. While once upon a time facial hair was mainly seen on men of a certain age, it’s now common to see it sported by a whole range of ages and demographics. This might have you asking the question: is it acceptable to have a beard on your passport photo? It’s understandable that you’ll want to know the answer, especially since the rules surrounding passport photos can be a bit of a minefield if you’re not familiar with the guidelines. Here’s what you need to know about sporting a beard on your passport picture.

Are you allowed a beard?

Yes. There’s nothing to stop you from keeping – or growing –your facial hair just because you need a passport photo. This isn’t just the case for beards, but also goatees, moustaches and stubble. You will still have to familiarise yourself with the rules concerning that area of your face, particularly that you can’t smile while posing for the picture.

Why is it allowed?

Even though your beard might make an official at the border have to look twice at your passport photo before allowing you into the country, what it doesn’t do is change the biometrics of your face. This means that you can still get through e-gates without trouble, which is why beards are allowed.

So hair is fair game?

Facial hair is fine, yes. There are rules surrounding other hair which you may need to know. For instance, the official guidelines explicitly forbid pictures where the hair is covering the eyes. Ultimately you can grow your facial hair as much as you like, but if you do the same with the hair on your head you’ll have to ensure it doesn’t cover your eyes in the process.

It’s time to sort your pictures

The decision to keep your beard or chop it off for your passport photo is completely up to you, but either way, it’s acceptable. If you’re keen to take a picture that will be accepted first time and in a fashion that’s most convenient for you, be sure to make use of the service available at Paspic. Through this channel, you can take your photo at home and be assured it meets all guidelines.

Photo: Beard by JeepersMedia licensed under Creative commons 4

How to take a great passport photo on your smartphone

In times gone by, the quickest way to get a passport photo involved sitting awkwardly in a cramped photobooth and waiting for what seemed like an eternity for the flash to go off. Now, thanks to the new BETA digital passport photo service, it’s possible to take a passport-ready picture from the comfort of your own home. All you need is a smartphone.

But although having the option to submit a digital passport photo is making the application process a lot easier, your image still needs to meet the strict guidelines. You must:

Look straight at the camera;

Have a neutral expression, with your mouth shut;

Ensure that nothing is obstructing your face;

Make sure there is no glare or shadows distorting the image.

So how can you ensure you get a good enough snap on your smartphone? Here are our top tips:

1. Take your photo during the daytime

Natural light will give you the best results, and will also reduce the chance of your passport picture being obstructed by glare and shadows. If possible, position yourself directly facing a window, and remember you need to be standing in front of a blank background. If there are no plain walls in your home, you can try putting a white sheet behind you.

2. Get some help

Although it’s possible to take a passport-quality ‘selfie’, you stand a much better chance of getting a good passport photo if someone else takes it for you. If you’re taking passport photos for babies or toddlers, you may also need an extra pair of hands to ensure they keep still for long enough. Although bear in mind you can’t submit a child passport photo if someone else is visible in the background.

3. Take your time

In this digital age, we’re used to doing everything instantly, but it’s best not to rush to click ‘send’ once you’ve taken your photo. Try taking several different shots and examining them all carefully to ensure you have an image that meets all the criteria.

If you need more help, check out the online tutorial at

Photo: Smartphone by newkemall licensed under Creative commons 4

Do I need a countersignature for a passport renewal?

It’s now easier than ever to submit a valid passport photo if you go through the right channels. However, you might require a helping hand if you require a countersignature. This scribble comes from an authorised individual who can vouch that you are the person on the photo. You will always need one of these if you’re applying for your first passport.

The question is: Do you require a countersignature if you’re only renewing your current passport?

Here’s all the information you need to know.

Do you need a countersignature?

The majority of people will be fine to submit their passport photos without a countersignature in the case of a renewal. However, there are occasions when you may need to enlist a person to authorise your identity.

What circumstances require a countersignature?

You’ll require a countersignature if you look markedly different since your last passport photo. In particular, the guidelines state that it’s required if ‘you cannot be recognised from your existing passport’. This doesn’t mean the likes of a new hairstyle or color, but instead different facial features – perhaps as a result of an accident or cosmetic surgery.

Is this rule the same for everyone?

No. This only applies to people aged 12 and above. With regards to children who are aged 11 and under, they will always require a countersignature in the case of renewal because it’s assumed their facial features will have changed substantially since their first picture was taken.

Who can act as your countersignature?

The official passport guidelines state that passports must be signed by ‘a person of good standing in their community’. This includes people in a wide variety of occupations, such as accountants, solicitors, dentists, social workers, journalists and many more. These types of professionals are deemed to be trustworthy enough to vouch for passport applicants.

Do you need passport photos?

You can now take your passport photos from the comfort of your own home before having them authorised by the team at Paspic. You’ll then be able to have hard copies of the images sent to your address, meaning you are just a signature away from your passport photo being successfully accepted.

Photo: Photo by reynermedia licensed under Creative commons 4

Where to get passport photos near me?

One of the biggest challenges that you will face when renewing or applying for a passport is obtaining a passport photo that will pass all of the recommended checks and stipulations. There are several options available to you when you’re looking for a passport photo service near to where you live. These include the professional photographic studio, a photo booth, or somewhere that’s even closer, your own home. Below we explore all three options.

The photographic studio

There are now many photographic studios on the high street that can take passport pictures that meet all l the recommended checks. However, not every town has such a service. If you are able to find one near where you live, then what you’ll find is that although they can take a passport picture for you, they are a lot more expensive than the online option.

The photo booth

Many people choose to have their passport photo taken in a photo booth that is located in a busy supermarket, shopping centre or railway station. Although this may seem like the quickest and easiest option, there is no guarantee that the image taken will be accepted by the passport office. There are no checks carried out in a photo booth, and it really isn’t suitable for young children.

Online passport photos

The easiest and most efficient way to take your passport photo is by doing so in the comfort of your own home. You do need to follow the recommended guidelines, such as using a white or cream background and having your head and shoulders in the shot, but as long as you follow these rules and the image is clear, then the online passport photo service will do all of the hard work for you. Not only is this the easiest option when taking passport pictures of children or babies, but it’s also incredibly cheap.

If you need passport photos to complete your passport application, then here at Paspic we can help you. To find out more about how to take your own passport photos online, then simply follow our easy online step by step guide.

Where to take digital passport photos

You may have noticed that more and more application processes are now entirely online and to complete these you will need a digital passport photo that meets stringent requirements. One aspect that can let down your passport photo is where you take it, but if you follow just a few simple steps, you’ll end up with a digital photo you can use.

Choose the right background

Choosing the right background is key as passport regulations state that there can be no texture or patterns behind you and no objects showing. A plain background is essential and a light colour like white or off white works best (although you must make sure your clothes are not the same colour as the background). Most people have a wall or curtain that will be suitable.

Get the light right

Photos where half your face is in shadow or you cast a shadow behind you are likely to be rejected as passport photos, so it is essential to get the lighting right. Natural sunlight is the best source, but make sure that you position yourself so that you are not casting a shadow. This is easiest to get right if you stand facing a window, so you may have to choose the right time of day for your chosen location to get this to work.

Position yourself carefully

Once you’ve got the light right and found a good background, you’ll need to stand about 0.5 metres away from it. The person taking the photo should be about 1.5 metres from you and should make sure that the photo includes your head and shoulders.

Retrieve your digital passport photo

Once you’ve set up and taken your photo, it couldn’t be easier to get an application ready digital image. Once your photo has been through Paspic’s validation system which checks to make sure it meets passport regulations, you will receive a hard copy in the post. With Paspic’s new Beta Digital Passport photo service, you will also get a link which allows you to retrieve a digital image of your photo which you can save and use in your online applications.

How long does it take to get a baby passport?

Getting a passport for your baby is not a difficult process and generally takes on the form of an ordinary application for a first passport. The time frame, depending on how much you are willing to pay, can be as little as a week from applying for the passport to receiving the physical piece in the post. It is important that, when you’re applying for a baby’s passport, you leave enough time for the application to be processed and the passport to be printed and sent to you.

If the baby is a citizen of the United Kingdom and both parents hold passports for the UK, then applying for their passport is a relatively simple process. Things become more complex if one of the parents does not have a UK passport and the process can take slightly longer as you may need to provide extra documentation to the UK Passport Office.

Only certain people can apply for a baby’s passport. These include a parent or guardian of the child, someone who has legally ‘adopted responsibility’ of the child, and all must be a citizen of the United Kingdom or a naturalised citizen. Some people also have automatic parental responsibility for the child, including the baby’s mother and a father if they were present on the birth certificate or married to the mother, have adopted the child or were married to the child’s mother when the baby was born.

When applying, you’ll need to provide documentation to prove the baby’s citizenship. This is usually in the form of the birth or adoption certificate or a notice of naturalisation. Photos will also need to be countersigned by someone who knows the parent and child well and can verify the identity of both. The photographs of the baby must be behind a white background with no parent or toy in the photo. Children under six do not have to be looking directly into the camera and children under one do not have to have their eyes open. Read our tips, How to take baby passport photo.

For a cost of £46.00, the passport will be sent by standard mail, which can take between 4 and 6 weeks. For £87.00, you have a fast-track service which will deliver the passport within one week.

Photo: Babies! by Rockin'Rita licensed under Creative commons 6

Can you smile in a passport photo?

We are taught from a young age to smile when in front of the camera. Unfortunately, this can lead to some confusion when it comes to taking a passport picture. If you’re ready to pose for the all-important image and want to ensure that you get it right the first time, here’s what you need to know about smiling in your passport photo.

Can you smile?

Sadly, no. The official government guidelines are rather clear on this point, advising people that they must ‘maintain a plain expression’ with ‘your mouth closed’ when posing for your passport picture. This doesn’t just rule out flashing your pearly whites but also excludes you from flashing even the smallest hint of a smile.

When was the rule made?

The rule officially came into force in the UK in 2005. At the time the public was told that passports which were submitted where people were smiling would not be authorised and the photograph would have to be taken again. Other countries have since enforced the same rule, including France.

Why can’t you smile?

Contrary to popular belief, the reason you can’t smile isn’t because of some killjoy in the government. Instead, it’s all down to the biometric information contained in your passport. When you use an e-gate at an airport it measures key details of your face, such as the space between your mouth and eyes. Unfortunately, when you smile this information becomes distorted.

So what can you do?

You should find it beneficial to practice posing with a neutral expression on your face before having your actual passport photo taken. For some people this won’t come naturally, so trying it out beforehand should ensure that you’re able to submit a passport photo that you’re both happy with and meets the guidelines.

Our service can help

You’ll have no problem taking a successful passport photo if you do it through Paspic. Not only will you be able to take a picture from the comfort of your own home, but we’ll look over it beforehand to ensure that it meets the official guidelines and will be accepted by the passport office.

Can you wear makeup in a passport photo?

Everyone knows that sometimes getting passport photos taken can be tricky – it seems like there is an endless list of requirements to ensure that your picture gets approved. This can prove frustrating and end up wasting a lot of time when after waiting for weeks your passport picture is simply rejected. In some instances, this can be a serious issue, when quick passport photos are required in order to get a passport sent quickly prior to going abroad.

One query a lot of women have is whether or not it’s OK to wear makeup when getting a passport photo taken. The rules set by Her Majesty’s Passport Office are quite strict, but the good news is that there is an allowance for makeup in a passport picture. This is of course only so long as the makeup is subtle and does not drastically change an individual’s appearance.

If you normally wear makeup, make sure that you put on the same amount you would usually so that you are easily recognisable when going through security checks. For example, if you are not someone who would usually wear a bright lipstick colour, or add false eyelashes, don’t then change your look when you are getting your photograph taken. Passport photo requirements also state that your picture should represent your ‘normal skin tone’, so best not to go too heavy with foundation or any wild costume makeup! Other than this, there should not be any issues for anyone who has chosen to wear makeup in their passport photo.  we show you some tips and tricks for achieving flawless natural makeup, please this tutorial video. ” Real Passport Makeup

To speed up the application process, many people now need to ensure that they get online passport photos rather than a hard copy like you might collect from a photo booth. This is in line with the fact that, increasingly, many countries require passport photos online as part of a digital application form. In the UK currently this is still just a trial, but it may soon be the case that it’s an easier, quicker process to renew your passport with an online application form, rather than sending off a hard copy application via post.

Here at Paspic, we’ll send you both a hard copy of your photo and provide a link to the digital version. We’ve found that 99.5% of our photos are approved the first time – and we’re so confident that if your photos get rejected, we’ll give you your money back! For quick, easy passport photos, order with Paspic today!

Do you need to keep old passports?

So your passport is about to expire. You send off the application for the new one – but what should you do with your old passport?

When you apply for a new passport, you’ll have to send several documents to the passport office. As well as your new passport photo, your old passpòrt will need to be sent. However, that doesn’t mean that you’ll kiss it goodbye. When your brand new passport arrives, the old one will be enclosed, too.

Your old passport will be clearly marked as invalid. Usually, this means that a hefty piece of the corner is cut off, making it immediately obvious that it’s no longer useful for travelling. Given its invalid status, you might be tempted to throw the old passport out. However, this is generally not recommended. Your old passport may not be valid anymore, but it could still make you the target for identity theft. Strictly speaking, you don’t NEED to keep it – but for your own peace of mind, you’re probably better off tucking it away in a safe spot like a desk drawer.

Many people like to keep their old passports for sentimental value. After all, your old passport photo can bring back memories, along with the stamps or visas from countries that you’ve visited. But there are practical reasons for keeping it, too. Your old passport contains information such as entry and exit dates for the countries that you travelled to. These can be vital if you’re going back in the future, as you’ll need this information for visas.

Sometimes, your passport might expire before a visa does. In this case, it’s important to inform the passport office when you send off your application for renewal. Even if you have no plans to visit that particular country again, you shouldn’t skip this step. When it comes to passports, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, and you never know when your circumstances might change.

All in all, you may find that you never use your old passport again – but it’s still worth keeping, just in case. Given that it hardly takes up any space, you might as well tuck it into a drawer and hold onto it.