Passport applications

If a child is to leave the UK then they will need a valid passport. This needs to be applied for in good time for the child to partake in whatever holiday or trip is planned. This page looks at the process of making a passport application for a looked after child.

A social worker can only apply for a passport for a looked after child where the department sharedre parental responsibility.

The department should not make application for a passport for a child who is accommodated except with the agreement of all people with parental responsibility for that child. In these circumstances, the parents or those with parental responsibility should sign the application form.  For children who are accommodated parents have the right to veto the issue of a passport. Agreement for application is therefore essential.

Even where the Local Authority does share parental responsibility, good practice dictates that the parents should be consulted wherever possible prior to the application being made.

Passport Service guidance states:

Applications for a child's first passport are not eligible for the same day Premium Service and such applications will normally take a minimum of one week to process if presented at a public counter. Social Services Departments should however apply as soon as travel is planned.

Any decision to make an application for a passport must be approved in writing by the Head of Service.


Completing the application form


The guidance that comes with the passport application form will identify which sections need to be completed and with what information.

The passport application form will ask for details of the child's birth parents, and just because a child was born in the UK does not make them a British citizen. The Passport Service therefore require evidence to prove citizenship, usually in the form of the child's birth certificate (or a certificated copy).

It is therefore important that at the earliest opportunity you locate a copy of the child's birth certificate as not doing so may slow the process down significantly. You will usually also need to provide a copy of the mother's birth certificate.



Countersigning the application form


The person who countersigns an application must hold a valid British or Irish passport and be willing to put their passport number on the application form (otherwise the application will not be accepted).

When countersigning an application form the person doing so is confirming that they have known the applicant for two years or more. In the case of children, the applicant is the adult who signs section 9 of the application. The person who countersigns does not need to have known the child for two years personally, but must be able to identify them from personal knowledge.

The Passport Office propose the following method:

The preferred method of application from Social Services Departments is for the Head of the relevant Social Services Department (or their deputy, area manager, or Principal Manager Community Care) to sign section 9, thus executing the parental responsibility they have acquired. The child's Social Worker can act as counter signatory as they are the person best placed to be able to identify the child from personal knowledge and know the person signing section 9 for 2 years.

If the person who countersigns the application is not the child's social worker then it is wise to check the directgov website to make sure that they are considered a suitably qualified person and are eligible to countersign the application.

In this area this means that the Head of Service would sign Section 9 of the application.



Submitting the application form


When the form has been completed it should be sent, with payment and relevant birth certificates to the Passport Service. You will also need to provide a copy of the relevant court order and a covering letter showing the section of the relevant Act that that the child is in care and details of where and to who the passport should be returned.



TaskResponsible OfficerRecordTimescale
Obtain and complete passport application forms from the immigration officeAdmin and social workerComputerWhen the child becomes looked after
Obtain up to date passport photos of the child and a copy of their birth certificate.Admin and social workerN/AAs appropriate
The passport application needs to be countersigned and the countersignatory must hold a valid British passport and be willing to provide the passport number on the application form. They must know not only the child but the person countersigning section 9.Anyone who has known the child for three yearsSection 10 Passport Application formWithin 2 weeks of the assistant director signing section 9
Send forms to the address on the form and include a birth certificate, cheque.If the child is on a community parenting order the assistant director must also sign in lieu of the parent.

Social worker

Assistant director

ComputerImmediately, once all documents have been obtained