Immigration Corner: Who can 'countersign'?
Dear Mr Bassie,
I am planning to apply for a British passport and would like some advice as to who is able to countersign passport applications and photographs.
Some passport applications and photos must be signed by someone else, known as the 'countersignatory', to prove the identity of the person applying.
A person will need to have someone else sign the form and photograph if he or she is applying for the first adult or child passport; a replacement for a lost, stolen or damaged passport; a renewal of a passport for a child age 11 or under; a renewal of a passport if the persons' appearance has changed and the holder cannot be recognised from his or her existing passport.
The countersignatory must have known the person applying for at least two years; be able to identify the person applying as a friend, neighbour or colleague. He or she should not just be someone who knows the applicant professionally.
The persons cannot be closely related or involved with the person applying, for example related by birth or marriage; and/or be in a relationship or live at the same address as the person applying.
If the person applying is in the United Kingdom (UK), the countersignatory must also live in the UK and have a British or Irish passport
If the person is applying from outside the United Kingdom, the countersignatory must have a British, Irish, EU, US or Commonwealth passport. The application will be processed more quickly if he or she has a British or Irish passport.
If that person holds a US, Commonwealth or other EU (not British or Irish) passport, he or she must provide a colour photocopy of the page, with their photograph on it, and this must be included with the countersigned application.
Countersignatories must work in or be retired from a recognised profession or be 'a person of good standing in their community', for example, accountant, airline pilot, barrister, doctor. A more comprehensive list may be found on the UK.gov website.
It should be noted that anyone who works for HMPO (Her Majesty's Post Office) cannot be countersignatories, and the applicant will be asked to find someone else if their countersignatory does not meet the requirements.
Please note that an applicant's countersignatory may be contacted by HMPO for more information. If he or she is not available, the application may be delayed. If the applicant has any queries, he or she can call the Passport Adviceline or can also use the Passport Adviceline online enquiry form.
Saturday, Sunday, and public holidays, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
An applicant should ensure that after he or she has filled in the form, that person must ask the countersignatory to check that the details on the form are correct and sign it.
By doing this, he or she is confirming he or she has known the applicant for more than two years; the applicant is who he or she claims to be; and, as far as he or she knows, all the information that the applicant has put on the form is true.
If the form is for a child passport, the countersignatory should know the person who signs the declaration, rather than the child and be able to identify the child. The countersignatory must also provide their British or Irish passport number - HMPO may check their identity.
The countersignatory should write the following on the back of one photo:
'I certify that this is a true likeness of [title and full name]', and he or she must add their signature and the date below this statement.
• John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (U.K.). Email:firstname.lastname@example.org