Applying for a UK passport while you’re in the USA is not as complicated as you might think. British citizens and nationals frequently have to apply for a UK passport in the USA, and there could be a number of reasons why you would need to do this; the good news is that the British Embassy in Washington DC is able to handle all applications so you don’t need to send important paperwork all the way to the UK.
Are you Eligible to Apply for a UK Passport?
To be accepted for a UK passport you obviously need to be deemed eligible. Ascertaining your eligibility is not always straight forward, but if you are a British citizen, British overseas territories citizen, British overseas citizen, British subject, British national (overseas), or a British protected person you can apply for a British passport.
You may also be eligible through your mother or your partner but this is when the legalities can get complicated. If you are unsure, you can check the DirectGov website for more information.
How to Apply for Your First UK Passport in the USA
If you are over the age of 16 you are deemed an adult for passport purposes, so this means you will need to apply for a UK adult passport rather than a child’s one. The adult form is titled FORM C1 and it is available for download from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website, or you can go to their website and download the Smart Passport Application. This is an interactive form that you can complete on your computer before printing it, rather than filling in the Form C1 by hand. However, the Smart Passport Application may not be right for you if you are applying in the USA and you are a British citizen, British Overseas Territories citizen, British Overseas citizen, British subject, British protected person, or British National (Overseas).
When completing Form C1 there are also guidance notes that can be downloaded from the FCO website and it’s advisable that you download and read these first, to insure you are completing the form correctly.
A major point to remember is that if this is your first new UK passport in the USA your application must be countersigned by someone who already holds a British or Irish passport, is over the age of 18, and you have known them for at least two years.
Passport Photographs Required for a New British Passport in the US
The photos must follow the specifications exactly so it is worth the money getting these done by a professional photographer. They will know the specifications and will have everything set up to make sure your photos come out perfectly.
Supporting Documents Required to Apply for a UK Passport in USA
The supporting documents are also very important when applying for a new British passport, because without the right documents your application will be returned to you, costing you valuable time and money.
The exact documents you need to send depend upon when and where you were born, so be sure to check with the FCO website for full details.
Mailing Your New UK Passport Application
Once you’ve completed the forms, got the photographs and supporting documentation together you should mail your application and the fees ($211 for an adult 32-page passport) to the Regional Passport Processing Center at the British Embassy in Washington DC. It is strongly advisable that you use a secure method of mailing such as the USPS Priority Mail Service or a courier service, and you must also include a $33 courier fee to cover the cost of having your documents and your new passport returned to you.
You should check methods of payment and the most recent fees on the FCO website before you apply for a UK passport in the USA.
Expedite New British Passport in USA
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 new British passport in the USA is six weeks from the date the fee is received.
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.