Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Definitely not British!

I had to renew DD's British passport last week. When we went to get her photo taken they asked in the store if this was going to be her first passport. We both hesitated for a moment, and then we agreed that, no this was not going to be her first passport but her sixth. You'd have thought we had six heads the way they looked at us! They are, however, quite used in that particular store to people of various nationalities wanting photos for passports, and they didn't quite believe me when I said I just wanted "passport photos, just like for an American passport." They seemed convinced that the photos must need to be different in some way. When I renewed both of DS's passports we had one set of photos taken and I used the same photos for both passports, so I really don't think there are different requirements! (Though if you apply for a British passport in the UK, the background for your photo has to be cream or light grey, but when applying from overseas it can be white.)

The passport application still has that section where you have to find someone other than a working-class person who's known you for at least two years and get them to sign the application to vouch that you are who you say you are:



At least you don't have to find someone British to do it, or I'd be in trouble! I asked a neighbor if she'd be willing to do it. We chatted briefly about the luxury of having two passports and the implications for future employment possibilities. I commented that simply having British passports doesn't really make my kids British, and she responded that she doesn't think of me as being British either. A few years ago I'd have been quite taken aback by that. The reality is that for some time now, the US is where I've lived the longest, and I'm actually more surprised when someone comments on my accent and asks me where I'm from. My answer to that is usually , "Well, I've lived right here for most of my life . . ." which really throws them for a loop!

Later, chatting with DD we were talking about the fact that should anything ever 'happen' to DH and I, she and her brother would probably go and live with my sister in the UK. She was OK with that and said she knows that's why we keep her British passport current, but then asked, "But what if there's World War 3? Britain and America would be on opposite sides so we wouldn't be able to get there!" I started to say something about the US and Britain usually being on the same side in a war, and then I remembered what she's been studying in history class this month! She grinned when she realized what I'd forgotten, and then followed it up with "Britain should never have fought the Americans. They wanted to be free and Britain should have let them be free." No, despite the passport, she's definitely not British!

9 comments:

Jenny said...

Nope, sounds American to me :)

nappy valley girl said...

Definitely sounds American.

We have just been doing the passport renewal thing too for Littleboy 1. A bit of a task to find someone out here who has known us for two years or more - luckily a friend from England was visiting and signed - and extra luckily he was another doctor. I do agree about the snob factor - why is someone like a postman not as reliable as a solicitor?!

Expat mum said...

I made the mistake of getting my kids their American and British passports at the same time, so when one expires, they all expire. Bloody nightmare trying to keep on top of it all.

Brit Abroad in USA (danielle) said...

I had US size photos sent back, they are not the same as the Uk requirements. Had to get Walgreens to re-size to UK then I left them uncut and let the embassy peeps do that bit.

Danielle said...

oh, meant to add... there is a section on the embassy website that says you don't need counter signatures unless you've significantly changed in appearance since last passport

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/TravelAndTransport/Passports/Applicationinformation/DG_174152

Almost American said...

Danielle - Sigh, just sent the application in - I hope the photos are OK! As I said, I renewed DS's passports recently and had one set of photos taken and they were acceptable for both passports. I went back to the same photo place, so I'll be really annoyed if for some reason the photos are not OK this time around!

I suspect that for a kid - who does look quite different than she did 5 years ago, they would want the photo countersigned.

Jane@WildeThymeKnits said...

Just did this for all 3 of ours. What a palava! Think these days that because they scan the photos,the size is not so critical as it used to be. Took us ages to find out what was acceptable though.

If I Could Escape . . . said...

I've yet to get my kids their British passports. Yikes! Laws are changing in a few months aren't they so I suppose I should get a move on with it, right?

NFAH said...

That's absolutely shocking about the countersignature qualifications. Typically British and class-conscious, but can you even imagine the discrimination lawsuits that would ensue if an American governmental agency tried the same thing???

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