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Immigration Corner | Should my documents be signed?

Published:Sunday | July 30, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mr Bassie,

I have been told that I need to get my passport application and photographs countersigned. When and how is this applicable?

- C.M.

Dear C.M.,

There are specific circumstances under which countersigning passport applications and photos should take place.

Some passport application forms and photos must be signed by someone else, known as the 'countersignatory', to prove the identity of the person making the application.

When persons need someone else to sign their form and photo, they must get the form and one of their two photographs signed if they are applying for a: first adult passport; first child passport; replacement for a lost, stolen or damaged passport; renewal of a passport for a child aged 11 or under; or renewal of a passport if the child's appearance has changed and they cannot be recognised from their existing passport.


A person of good standing


With respect to who can sign the form and photograph, the countersignatory must: have known the person applying or the adult who signed the form if the passport is for a child under 16 years of age, for at least two years; be able to identify the person applying, for example, he/she is a friend, neighbour or colleague, not just someone who knows them professionally; be 'a person of good standing in their community'; or work in or be retired from a recognised profession.

Persons acting as countersignatory cannot be closely related to or involved with the person applying, for example: related by birth or marriage; and/or be in a relationship with or live at the same address as the person applying.

If persons are applying from within the United Kingdom, their countersignatory must: live in the United Kingdom; or have a current British or Irish passport.

If they are applying from outside of the United Kingdom, their countersignatory must have a current British, Irish or other EU, US or Commonwealth passport. If they have a US, Commonwealth, or non-British or non-Irish EU passport, he/she must include with the application a colour photocopy of the page with their photograph on it. Please note that the application will be processed faster if they have a British or Irish passport.

With respect to the countersignatory duties and the form, after the form has been filled in, the countersignatory must check the details are correct and sign it. By signing it, he/she is confirming that: they have known the applicant for more than two years; the applicant is who he/she claims to be; as far as the countersignatory knows, all the information that the applicant has put on the form is true. In addition, the countersignatory must put his/her passport number on the form.

With respect to accepted occupations for countersignatories, the countersignatory must either: work in or be retired from a recognised profession; be 'a person of good standing in their community'. Examples of recognised professions that are considered suitable for persons to act as countersignatories include: accountant; airline pilot; attorney-at-law; chairman/director of limited company; dentist; justice of the peace; member of parliament; police officer, to name a few.

There are certain people who are not accepted, for instance, the countersignatory cannot: work for HM passport office; be a doctor, unless they state that they know the applicant well, for example, good friend and that they recognise him/her easily from their photograph. Please note persons will be asked to find someone else if their countersignatory does not meet the requirements. Also, be aware that it is a criminal offence to make a false declaration on a passport application.

When making the application, if not sure who to ask to be the countersignatory, it is best to call the Passport Adviceline.

- 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 (UK). Email:lawbassie@yahoo.com