How Do I Renew an American Passport When Living in the UK?
Americans living in the U.K. enjoy weekend travel to other nearby European countries on a regular basis. That means it's necessary to keep a valid passport at the ready. Most U.S. passports are valid for 10 years, but it's important to remember to renew your passport in advance of the expiration date. Keep an eye on the expiration date and send in a renewal application at least six months before. U.S. citizens who live in the U.K. have to follow special procedures to renew a passport.
Where to Apply
Any U.S. citizen who is a permanent resident of the U.K. must apply for a passport renewal in the U.K. Applications cannot be mailed to the U.S., so it's important to carefully follow all instructions on the U.S. Embassy in the U.K.'s website. Residents in England and Wales apply through the U.S. Embassy in London; residents in Northern Ireland apply through the U.S. Consulate General in Belfast; and those in Scotland apply through the U.S. Consulate General in Edinburgh.
Most applicants can send the renewal application by mail. If your current U.S. passport is undamaged, issued within the past 15 years and has your current name (or you have evidence of a legal name change), apply by mail. Those living in England and Wales must use a courier service called DX for mail applications. Book the service on the embassy's website. Applicants in Northern Ireland and Scotland should mail applications to the addresses listed on the embassy's website.
It is also possible to submit a passport application in person at one of the embassies or consulates throughout the U.K. If your passport is damaged or you have special circumstances, make an appointment online to appear in person. Children under the age of 16 must apply in person with both parents present.
Collect your current U.S. passport, one approved passport-size photograph and evidence of a name change if one has occurred since your last passport application. Note that there are specific requirements for U.S. passport photos. To ensure your photo is right, use one of the photo agencies listed on the embassy's website, which include the British photo chain Snappy Snaps. Be sure to remove eyewear, hats and other head coverings for the photo, and keep a neutral expression.
Evidence of a name change includes a marriage certificate, change of name deed, statutory declaration or a court order. Complete Form DS-82, which is available on the U.S Department of State's website. Follow the specific instructions for the form on the U.S. Embassy in the U.K.'s website as there are certain fields that should be left blank when applying from outside the U.S. Print the form once you've filled it out correctly.
All applicants provide a U.S. Social Security number on the application. Anyone who does not have a Social Security number must submit a signed and dated statement with the application that states: “I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America that the following is true and correct: I have never been issued a Social Security number by the Social Security Administration.” If you have a Social Security number, but can't remember it or have lost your card, make an appointment at the embassy. Children who are renewing passports must additionally have a U.S. birth certificate or Consular Report of Birth Abroad. Both parents must present government-issued IDs, such as driving licenses or passports.
Paying the Fee
The fee for a U.S. passport renewal from the U.K. is about $110 and $105 for children under 16. If you're applying by mail, send the fee as an international money order in the exact U.S. dollar amount required or as a banker’s draft in U.S. dollars through a bank with branches in the U.S. Both should be made payable to the United States Disbursing Officer. Cash, personal checks and credit cards are not accepted. If you're applying in person at the embassy, you can pay the fee by credit or debit card, or by cash in London or Belfast. Personal checks are not accepted.
It's not possible to expedite a passport application made in the U.K. Most applications take about three weeks when submitted in London, and 10 working days when submitted in Scotland or Northern Ireland. If you need to travel sooner, make an appointment at the nearest embassy for help. Contact the U.S. Embassy online with any specific concerns. Note that there may be a delay in response due to the volume of emails.