If you are British or have all your relatives living in the UK, you probably would not understand the urge to get your new born baby a passport to leave the country and travel soon after their birth.
However, many of us who moved to the UK only less than a decade ago or so, not followed by the rest of their family of origin (immigrants or expats, if we want to sound posher), feel a strong desire to make their parents and grandparents meet the new addition to the family as soon as possible, not only on Skype so to speak 🙂 . Some may have elderly relatives that won’t be able to travel in a foreign country; for others it’s a financial matter, where it makes more sense for less people to move and visit the rest of the family instead of the other way around; or you could have a sibling’s wedding to attend or some other important family reunion you simply cannot (and don’t want to!) miss.
Since June 2012, minors have been able to travel only if they have their own travel document and can unfortunately no longer travel just by using their parents’ passport containing the minor’s name. Hence the need of an ID for the baby too, quite quickly. The things to know about this procedure are the following.
Delivery discharge summary
If I remember correctly, when you are an EU citizen who has been living and working in this country for over 5 years and can prove it, then you should be able to get your child born here a UK passport without too many difficulties. I have not followed this procedure yet (I plan to at some point) so I would not be able at this stage to give any advice on what to do exactly, I can only refer to the GOV.UK website. However, even if you plan to get a passport from your own country of origin, you will still need a document from the UK government called a full birth certificate. You can obtain it only by registering the birth of your child with your local town hall.
To do so, you will be provided with documents from the hospital where the baby was delivered or from the midwife who is following you in case of home birth (she is only getting the same paperwork from the hospital she is working from, she is simply entering your child’s details into their system after her visit to your place). The form simply states that you mother with your full name gave birth to a baby boy or girl on that specific day at that specific time… Quite boring! But with this information you can prove you are now parent of a new born baby 😉
Full birth certificate
Once you have this document (usually within a week maximum from birth), you can book an appointment with your borough’s register office to register the birth of your baby. You are supposed to do so anyway within 42 days after delivery, even if you won’t apply for an ID straight afterwards.
Sometimes tough, if you want your husband to do this on your behalf whilst you cuddle your little one at home or simply if you need a nap 🙂 , you may also need to provide a marriage certificate in some circumstances, for instance when your union was not registered in the UK, if you got married abroad – please do check with your local town hall to know more.
Bear in mind that some boroughs can get particularly booked up at some stages of the year or because of their location, so would not have a space available for a long time. From my own experience with Lambeth, first time around (2011) we had a waiting list of over 4 weeks; we were desperate as we had already booked our tickets to leave before the first available space! However we e-mailed them with proof of traveling tickets and explaining we lived 5 minutes away and could be contacted even last minute in case of a cancellation and they were amazing to fit us in a few days after we initially contacted them! Second time around (2014), things had improved dramatically as now Lambeth provides time slots with official registrars at children centers rotating location, week days and times. Easy as a piece of cake, no queues, we went to the first and nearest available to us (I personally found out from a leaflet at my midwife surgery in the waiting area).
Birth registration with your country
The same issue of waiting time can be experienced with your own consulate too. The French embassy for instance, only provides passports with a booked appointment and if you don’t plan it ahead you may have at least a month waiting time there too (however I have to admit they are very efficient and go the extra mile, so every day they do take a limited number of urgent cases without previous booking, only if you can prove the urgency of your matter though). Generally the good thing about the consulate though, on the contrary of your local borough, is that you should be able to book your slot before your baby is born as you don’t have to prove beforehand you have all the necessary documents to turn up (whilst your borough may ask you for a reference number on your discharge summery that matches the one received from your hospital which may have already sent notification of birth to them too).
To obtain a passport though, you still have to register the birth in your own country, so you need two appointments that can be usually booked on the same day, first with the register office and with the passport office an hour later or so. I am not sure how every country works but again the French consulate needs you to have your marriage registered with them so you can have a family book where the birth of your kids will be entered every time you have a new addition to the family. This is something I did up to a couple of months before the birth of my first child. I assume it is also compulsory to have a valid current ID with your country and be registered as expat in their lists. Do check instructions in advance from your own consulates to know what to provide on the day of your appointments and check for both procedures, the birth registration and the passport, as there may be slightly different documents needed for each procedure.
Other necessary bits and bobs
Some consulates can be quite pedant, such as the Italian one (typical! If you are Italian too, you know what I mean by ‘typical’…). They only do almost everything by post, so you also need to find a competent professional to certify the photo of your child and they even need an extra step: they want the birth certificate to be legalized by a specif body (which you also have to pay on top of your passport and postal fees). This extra step, even when carried out immediately, can still take you a few more days in the process of getting your baby’s ID in time for your holiday.
Another important thing to take into account is where you are getting your pictures taken. Your baby may be asleep most of the time, or crying (!) so you can forget taking a snap in a common machine at the shopping center, it’s a guaranteed nightmare: the guidelines are extremely strict, despite your child will never even look the same even just a few weeks later and the passport is valid at least 3 years… I personally found the guy who runs the photography shop in South Kensington Tube station simply amazing: he managed to take pictures of both my 2 weeks old babies with their eyes wide open without them crying or making funny faces!
My personal experience
For what is regarding the passport procedure, I personally chose to book my ‘double’ appointment with the French consulate quite in advance (when I was 7 months pregnant) based on:
– the date I needed my passport for (my leaving date was also calculated on the below factors);
– how much time maximum my consulate website stated I could get a passport within;
– my due date;
– my potential induction date if I was over 40 weeks pregnant (usually within 2 weeks from your due date).
If you are well organized in time, everything should run quite smoothly: just so you know, we managed to leave the UK and visit our families to introduce our little treasures within 5 weeks after their births, both times, without having to change our traveling tickets (booked before their arrival) ❤