Avoiding the pitfalls - renewing your passport
It soon comes round. Ten years can seem to pass by with frightening speed. Only the passport photo remains as an embarrassing reminder of just how many years have elapsed. Here, Karen Love from the Post Room in Benijófar, makes some suggestions of how, when the time comes, we can renew this essential document.
There are four ways in which you can renew your passport:
- send the form off yourself from Spain
- go to Madrid
- return to the UK to obtain your new passport
- or use a service like the ‘Check and Send’
Completing the form
If you choose to process your application yourself you need to allocate plenty of time and read through the instructions, like they tell you in school, very carefully. The passport photo is a particular hurdle to negotiate. The guidelines for this have become tighter and it must:
• have a cream or pale grey background
• a neutral expression – no smiling!
• be printed on high quality photographic paper
• have a clear view of your face – no stray hairs
You need to obtain a counter-signatory to the application - someone who has known you for at least two years and is a practising or retired professional. They can be either a Spanish National or a British Subject holding a British Passport.
You need to complete a debit/ credit card authorisation form as this is the only way that the Consulate fee can be paid. If you don’t have a card and you are using someone else’s then a copy of their passport must accompany your application and they must sign the debit/ credit card authorisation form.
You can do it for yourself but, as you can see, it is quite a complicated process and there can be a few aborted attempts as forms are returned due to error. That’s where a passport checking service can be particularly beneficial.
If you do choose a ‘check and send’ option then once your form has been thoroughly scrutinised for errors it is sent by secure courier service to the consulate in Madrid for processing. The new passport is then returned and you will be contacted to collect it. Don’t forget to take it to your bank to have the new number registered against your account.
Applying in the UK
If you are planning a return visit to the UK of over three weeks and within 9 months of your passport expiring you can use the fast track system over there. The Post Office Check and Send service is one option but you must be available at the address identified on your form to sign for it when it arrives.
If you only have a short stay in the UK you can go directly to the six Passport Processing Centres that have a turn around time of between 7 to 10 days. However, it is not guaranteed that the passport will be returned in this time and you might prefer to access their urgent application service instead. You need to make an appointment for this but you can book up to two weeks before hand.
What you shouldn’t do
Don’t attempt to bypass the system by sending your passport back to the UK for friends and family to send off for you. This is illegal and if you are caught you will lose your application fee and most likely have to return to the UK and attend a processing centre to obtain a new passport and explain your actions. Of course, if you do this you will also have to apply for an emergency passport at around 120€ for your return trip. Not a cheap option if you consider the cost of flights etc. on top.
I see them all the time at the Post Room. Here are some of the most common errors people make:
• you’ve guessed it – the passport photo – the days of the photo booth are over
• the signature – no part of the signature must touch the grey edge of the box
• incomplete forms – for example if you have been known previously by a different surname this should be included in the additional information
• original documents only are accepted, even certified copies are not admissible
• typex is definitely not allowed! If you make a mistake initial against the correction or even better, complete a new form
And be relieved that you’re renewing your passport now. Who knows what the obstacles will be before another ten years has elapsed!
Karen can be contacted at The Post Room at Benijófar (located behind the church in the town centre) call 00 34 966 712 382 or Email email@example.com
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