Updated on January 27, 2021
If you travel frequently, you may be eligible for a second UK passport.
That’s not a replacement, renewal or extension, but a second valid passport. There are various reasons you might need one; some visas can take up to 30 working days to come back to you (see Visas: Access granted), and countries may not allow access to those who have travelled to an “incompatible country” (described as “a country that as political differences with a country the customer may have visited in the past), meaning you don’t want that stamp in your passport.
It’s not something the government shouts about – there is very little information about how to get a second passport on gov.uk, for example – so here is our step-by-step guide on how to apply.
Please note that if you are applying in any exceptional circumstances or seeking a fast track option, it may be worth contacting the passport office on (+44) 0300 222 0000 to clarify the correct course of action.
1. Check if you are eligible
You must be aged 16 or over and have a valid reason for needing a second passport, though it is not guaranteed that you will be granted one.
The most common applications for a second passport are from frequent business travellers. You will need a letterhead paper from your employer, signed and recently dated, explaining why you need the document for work. If you are a business owner or self-employed, the letter will need to come from a contractor or colleague. The document does not need to be signed by a British passport holder.
You will also need a colour copy of your current passport and all the visa pages.
If you want to query your eligibility, call the Passport Advice line on 0300 222 0000 (Monday to Friday 0800 to 2000, or 0900 to 1730 on weekends and bank holidays).
2. Fill out an application
You can do this by post or online.
Post Offices will have a passport application form – this will be the same form you would use if you were applying for a replacement or renewed passport.
If this is your first time applying for a second passport, tick the box for ‘Your first British passport’ in Section 1 (even though it isn’t). If it is not your first time, tick the ‘replacement’ box. In either case, you must write in Section 8 – ‘More information’ – that you are applying for a second passport for business reasons.
Fill in the rest of the form as normal. The same applies if you apply online at gov.uk/apply-renew-passport.
As well as the signed letter from your employer, you will need:
- A countersignature from a non-related individual you have known for at least two years, who works in a recognised profession. This person must hold a British or Irish passport
- Two recent passport photos, one of which must be signed by your counter-signatory
Both options will require you to send your current valid passport with your application.
There are three things to note, and we recommend checking with the passport office if you are unsure:
- The service is not available overseas. If you urgently need a passport overseas, you will need an emergency travel document, but this is only available if yours is lost, stolen, damaged, full, expired or with HM Passport Office or a foreign embassy.
- It is possible to get a fast-track option – see here for more details – however the process changes in this instance. You will need to book an appointment for a paper premium service by phone. The digital premium service that is an option online can only be used for passport renewals. We advise you book over the phone to avoid confusion; choosing the wrong option may result in your passport being cancelled. Note that because of coronavirus, you cannot book an appointment at a passport office. Passport offices and the premium and fast track services are closed, and you are advised to call the Passport Adviceline to apply for a passport urgently.
- There is a way to get the second passport without sending your original one, but it will require you to send your birth certificate and scans of your picture page and any visas. Again, we recommend that you call the passport office to arrange this.
You will have to pay the same fee that is required for a first passport. The price can vary but it is usually around £80 – see the list of fees here. You can pay this by cash, cheque or by filling out the credit/debit card form at the back of the application.
The fee is non-refundable, even if your application is rejected.
4. Wait for a reply
Once you have sent off your application, you can track its status online. It may take several weeks.
When your application has been processed, supporting documents will be returned to you free of charge via second-class post. You can pay an extra fee to have your documents returned by secure delivery. If you are successful, your passport will follow.
And as a commenter points out on this forum thread, it’s best not to show off both passports at immigration in foreign countries – it’s not a concept every officer will be familiar with.