Friday, 27 June 2014

The Passport Hassle: From Zero to Two Passports.

It's been all over the news recently about the passport delays in the UK. Apparently there are 346,350 more passports being applied for this year than last, not to mention they have cut the workforce by 500 jobs. We were one of those effected.

We knew way before Edward was born that we would be going to Norway for the summer, but obviously you can't apply until the baby is born. We researched about which passport to get him as he has dual citizenship. We decided the British one would be less hassle as we could apply from home rather than having to go to London, and oh how wrong we were!

I collected the forms in February to fill in ourselves whilst we were in Aberystwyth studying for the term. I got stuck on two problems: we needed a photo and we didn't a counter signature. The first is a relatively minor problem, but second is a logistical hassle. At just a few weeks old taking a passport photo is rather difficult - you still need them to have their head looking in the correct way, and you can't have anyone in the picture with them. For babies that can't hold their head you normally do it lying down. So we resolved to get the photos done in the Easter holidays. All baby passport photos are best done by a professional photographer in a studio. You can get them done for as little as £6. We weren't hurried anyway because we couldn't get the counter signature whilst in Aberystwyth. Firstly you need to know the person for over two years. I had only been in Aberystwyth a year and a half. There was one person from back home who also attended the university whom I'd know years. However the counter signatory must be of 'significant standing within the community', so we guessed that ruled out students..

Therefore we couldn't send off the application until 22nd April when I was back for Easter at my parents. A friend of my mum's signed and we sent it immediately. 

I was told it would take about 3-4 weeks. I estimated we would be in Aberystwyth at that point. So I had the passport sent there. Only the passport never arrived and I rang up to find out why. Clever me had forgotten the birth certificate. I sent it ASAP as we had now booked the flights for the 7th June, at this point it was mid May. I then spent ages trying to contact the Durham Passport Office as it was them dealing with our application and I wanted it sped up. It took about a week before someone rang back. By that point we were back in Cambridge, moved out of our flat in Aberystwyth. We had one week to go before our flight and still no passport.

They then insisted we needed proof of change of address. Despite the fact I had lived there my whole life I needed to send a utility bill and a signed letter from my dad saying he is happy to receive the passport at his house. This was two days before flying before it was sent off. 

We realised we weren't going to get the passport in time and so switched paths. We headed to London to the Norwegian Embassy (Thank God for his dual citizenship!) to see if they could get him a travel document letting them into the country. They agreed and within two hours we had a travel document and also his own Norwegian Passport was in application guaranteed to arrive at Haakon's parents house in Norway in two weeks. No later.

We flew the next day. No problems - border control wise, the rest is another story!! 

Two weeks after going to the embassy we received his Norwegian Passport. You can see in these photos that Edward is loving his passport! Can you believe he went to two (three if count the difference between Wales and England) without a passport?!

NINE weeks after applying for the British passport we finally received the text you can see in the picture. Still no physical passport. I guess I shouldn't be counting my chickens before they hatch but we do have one passport now so we are safe.