Who would have thought it was so difficult to get a child passport? H’s child passport was due for renewal and we thought we’d get it sorted out in good time for our holiday later in the year. What should have been a routine easy job turned into a bit of a saga.
I started off my applying for it online (mistake number one). I filled in the form online taking a reasonable amount of care in filling it in. What then happened is that I waited nearly a week for the completed form to come through the post. When it came through I could see that I had completed parts incorrectly – I’m not sure if this was my error or how the form seemed online. To amend the form was too difficult because they only want you to make minimal corrections, so I’d wasted a week. I wouldn’t recommend using the online route, unless you can’t get to a post office for some reason.
So we needed another form, so to save delay I got one from the post office (second mistake – I should have got a few forms). Our post office has a photo machine so I thought we’d kill two birds with one stone. My husband walked down with us and I took the opportunity to plunder his wallet for the coins needed for the machine (£4 – can you believe it?) I then let him leave to continue his shopping (third mistake – I should never have let him escape).
H was too short to sit on the stool so I had to get him to kneel on it. It was a bit wobbly and uncomfortable so he wasn’t very keen, but he did it. Then I had to ask him
- not to smile
- to look at a certain point which wasn’t the screen
- hold that pose while I closed the curtain and reached in to press the button.
Naturally the first attempt wasn’t a good photo, so we rejected that. Sadly the second attempt was even worse and the machine didn’t allow two attempts. Now the guidelines say that a child who is 5 or under doesn’t need to not smile, but I didn’t think the passport office would be too keen on issuing a passport for a child that was actually pulling some kind of face. See the first set of passport pictures above. H is nearly 6 and generally quite amenable. All I can say is that the person, who decided on the guidelines at the passport office, has never tried to get a 6-year-old to balance kneeling on a wobbly photo booth stool, whilst having their non smiling photo taken, on the right colour background, looking straight ahead…..
So I’ve got no more change. There’s a long queue for the post office counter. So off we go to buy something in a nearby shop, so that we have another £4 in change to take a second set of photos. By this point I’m getting rather stressed. We go back to the post office. We position H kneeling on the wobbly seat. It seems like a replay. The first picture is another disaster. The second is somewhat better. I can’t decide whether he looks scared to death or whether he looks like he’s been up all night. They are amongst the worst pictures I have of him, but they will do.
So I go home with my form. I sit down to fill it in. I make an error (fourth mistake). It’s too big to just cross out. I go back to the post office and ask for two forms to be sure. I fill it in – correctly this time. Next up to get the form signed by a responsible person to say it is H. I have a good friend who is a pharmacist, so I go round to see her. She fills in the form, signs it and writes the necessary stuff on the back of the picture. However, she makes a minor mistake. We seek advice from the guidance notes and it says to cross it out and initial the change. She does this.
Next up I’m back at the post office again (I’m beginning to think I should just move in and have done with it). I can not face any more problems so I opt for the check and send service (fifth mistake). It’s a few pounds more than just sending recorded, but I figure it will be worth it if all goes smoothly from here. It doesn’t.
The man behind the counter says that my pharmacist friend shouldn’t have initialed her mistake. I say that we did what was in the notes. He discusses with his colleagues. They say I should get it redone. I show him the relevant section in the notes. He says I didn’t know about that and accepts it. I wonder why I am paying for check and send.
This all happened a few weeks ago and the happy news is that H’s new child passport has arrived. All is well.