There may be a number of reasons why you would need to apply for a British passport in the US. Perhaps you have been living in the United States for some years and your British passport is near its expiry date; or you have been listed on your parent’s passport and are now applying for your first one; you may have a child who is under the age of 16 and you are applying for their first passport, or renewing an existing one; or you may have lost or had stolen your existing British passport.
Whatever the reason, all British passports can be applied for here in the United States – you do not need to return to the UK to apply, and you do not need to send your application to the UK.
However, you should be aware that there are several different application forms, and which one you need to complete depends on whether you are an adult or a child. All forms can be downloaded and printed from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website, or you can use the ‘Smart’ Passport Application system. This is a clever system (hence the name!) that uses just one form to figure out what kind of passport you need to apply for, depending on the answers you give to the questions it asks. Smart is an interactive PDF that you should download from the FCO website and save to your computer then complete in your own time, and print it once you’re done. The benefit of this system is that you don’t need to worry about whether you’re completing the correct application form as it does it all for you.
Eligibility for a British Passport
If you’re applying for a first time UK passport you need to make sure you are eligible to apply, i.e. you have a claim to British nationality. Determining whether you’re eligible can be a complicated process and passport officers in the United States will not be able to give individuals a definitive answer, so please look at the Direct Gov Identity and Passport Service guide for more information.
Application Forms for British Passports in the US
Once you’ve determined you are eligible to apply you can complete the application form. Applying for your first UK passport is more complicated than simply renewing an existing one as the passport office will need to verify your identity and your claim to nationality. You will need to have your passport photos countersigned and you will need to provide supporting documents, however, the exact specifications depend on when and where you were born.
Applying to renew an existing British passport is more straightforward, provided you have the old passport in your possession as this will need to be sent with your application.
Note that if your passport is lost or stolen you should complete form LS01 as soon as possible so that your passport can be cancelled.
Where to Apply for a British Passport in the US
All British passport applications in the US are processed at the Regional Passport Processing Centre in Washington DC, which is located within the British Embassy. Applications should be sent by secure mail such as USPS Priority Mail service, or with a courier service such as UPS, so that you can get confirmation that the application has arrived.
Applications can also be sent via a passport agent who will check your application is in order before sending it on. This can add a number of days to your processing time, and may not be advisable if you’re in a hurry.
How Long Does it Take?
Once your application has arrived at the processing center it takes several weeks for it to be processed, providing that your application is in order and you are paying the correct fee. The standard processing times for a British passport renewal in the US is four weeks from the date the fee is taken, and for first time applications and lost or stolen passports it is six weeks.
While you can access information about different types of passport services on the UK Passport in USA website, the focus is on professional passport expediting services for British citizens who need tassistance in obtaining their passprots. The same expediter we recommend for U.S. passports, It’s Easy Passport, also provides expedited UK passport services.