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What is a 'passport'?

British Passports

Alan Platt (Director) gives expert video advice on: What is a 'passport'?; Do I need a UK passport to travel in Europe?; Does everyone need a passport? and more...

What is a 'passport'?

A passport is a document issued by a National Government, which confirms your identity and your nationality. The passport contains a number of pieces of information about you, normally your full name, your date of birth and your place of birth and any distinguishing features.

Do I need a UK passport to travel in Europe?

You would need to take a passport with you if you were travelling within Europe, because the United Kingdom doesn't have a national identity scheme. The only way that the governments within the European Union know that you're a British citizen definitively is if you carry your passport.

Does everyone need a passport?

Yes, anybody who intends to travel outside of the United Kingdom should apply for a passport. It is the only acceptable document for foreign governments to establish that you are a British citizen.

How long does it take to apply for a passport?

At the moment, a British passport can be applied for and issued within seven days. There is, however, a fast track process. If it's not your first passport you can apply using the fast track process and obtain it within twenty four hours.

Are the home office allowed to take away my passport?

The home office could take away your passport if they established that you'd gained it by deception. For example, a person who naturalized as a British citizen is asked to make a declaration that all the information they give is honest and truthful. If it was subsequently established that you had given incorrect information or false documents to the home office in order to obtain that nationality and passport, then the home office would be within their rights to take that passport away from you.

How long is a British passport valid for?

Generally, a British passport is valid for a 10-year period at which point you would then renew it. If you're a child, the passport would be valid for only five years. In certain circumstances where you have lost a passport, the home office may restrict the validity, perhaps down to two years.

Why do airlines check our passports when they have been checked by immigration?

Airlines check your passports because they have an obligation to do so, under a piece of legislation called the Carrier's Liability Act. That means that if an airline carries a passenger to the United Kingdom who is inadequately documented, that they have a forged passport or a document that doesn't contain a visa if one is required, then the airline would be fined 2000 pounds by the British government for bringing that person to the United Kingdom. Obviously they instigate these checks for two reasons. One is not to incur that liability, and also not to bring to the United Kingdom people who have fake documentation.

Why is passport fraud so prevalent?

Passport Fraud nowadays is so prevalent because it is quite difficult in some instances to obtain visas to come to the United Kingdom if for example you've previously been refused a visa to come here or you are perhaps an international terrorist or person with a criminal background then it may well be the only way that you can realistically attempt to come to the UK. I'm not condoning that for one moment but that has been the reasons why, and generally speaking those are the reasons why people try to obtain fake documentations to come to the UK.

Is it difficult to fake passports?

It's quite difficult to fake passports nowadays because passports have so many safeguards. The safeguard techniques are so advanced, so it's really, really difficult for an individual to make a fake passport.