British Passport Interview

British passport interview

Congratulations! You and your family have naturalised as British citizens. You have submitted your applications for your first British passports. Only now, you have been invited to an interview. Why? What’s the purpose of the British passport interview and what can you expect? We answer those questions below.

Our clients, Seb and Ute, and their 3 children had naturalised as British citizens with our assistance.

Once completed, we gave Seb and Ute guidance on how to proceed with their British passport applications.

We hadn’t heard from them for quite some time, and took the view that everything was probably progressing smoothly. That is, until Seb called in a huge panic.

Seb’s application for a British passport, and Ute’s, had been approved by the Passport Office. Their two youngest children, both under 10 years of age, also received their passports. But Seb’s and Ute’s 17-year-old daughter did not receive her passport. Instead, she was invited for a British passport interview by the Passport Office.

Disappointed and fearing the worst, Seb called to understand the meaning behind the British passport interview. After all the hurdles that he, Ute and their children had jumped through to reach this stage, would their daughter end up being denied her first British passport?

The reason for a British passport interview

British passport interviews are nothing to fear.

Normally, HM Passport Office (Passport Office) will issue a British passport based on the document submitted with the application.

If not completely satisfied about the applicant’s identity, rather than reject the British passport application, the Passport Office may invite the applicant, of 16 years of above, to their offices for an interview in order to assure themselves that the applicant is who they say they are.

This applies to the very first passport application. It does not apply to passport renewal applications.

The validity of the interviewing process to achieve this objective was questioned as far back as 2010, when data at the time showed that the interviews lead to great inconvenience for genuine applicants and added to the application fees, yet did not lead to significant sanctions for those caught abusing the system.

Still, is important to highlight that the Passport Office is not seeking to test the applicant’s entitlement or eligibility for a passport, merely their identity.

It isn’t as daunting as it sounds and there is no need to request the presence of a lawyer or adviser.

Where can I find a passport office?

Passport offices can be found via the following link: https://www.gov.uk/passport-interview-office

What to expect at the interview?

The British passport interview lasts approximately 30 minutes. Some of the questions that the applicant can expect to answer are:

  • Their full name and the spelling of their name
  • Their date of arrival to the UK
  • Their residential address, including their full postcode
  • The length of time that they have lived in the UK
  • The length of time that they have lived at their present address
  • The names and roles of the persons that countersigned their application for a British passport
  • Their employment status
  • Their employment or self-employment role
  • The location of their Citizenship ceremony

For younger applicants such as Seb and Ute’s daughter, the applicant may also be asked:

  • Their school name and address
  • The full names of their family members
  • The number of siblings in their household
  • Their parents’ names and date of births

The answers to the questions should already be familiar to the applicant, and so there is nothing to revise or prepare for, except say, making sure that you are clear about the information that your chosen referee has provided to you for the purposes of the application.

When applying for a British passport on behalf of minors, it may seem inconsequential to inform them of the persons supporting their applications. However, it may be beneficial to update them if there are invited to an interview.

Regardless, we are aware of one person who was unable to recite the date of their parents’ marriage or their parents’ wedding location. That person had answered all of the remaining questions correctly and still received their passport.  

Conclusion

British passport interviews may strike fear but really are an opportunity for the Passport Office to test your identity. The Passport Office will ask questions that should be readily known to you, as the sample questions above demonstrate.

Once the Passport Office are satisfied with the information provided at the interview, you can expect your first British passport to be issued quite quickly.

As to Seb and Ute’s daughter, she attended the interview and we are pleased to report that she was issued with a British passport a few days after her interview.  

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Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration.

Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration assistance to individuals and families.

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