Posts Tagged ‘photograph’

I used to be a civil servant (that’s another of those sentences that I feel ought to be followed by “but I’m ok now”), so I’m not easily fazed by bureaucracy. But the British Embassy has managed to raise my blood pressure to a level that requires blog therapy to lower it again.


My passport expired at the end of September and being no longer resident in the UK I have to apply to the British Embassy in Madrid to renew it. The first couple of points on the blood pressure gauge were notched up when I looked at the fee; the cost of renewing a passport in the UK is £72 (€105), to apply as an ex-pat it’s €185 plus €15 courier costs.


I’d already mentally compiled the first few lines of my ‘outraged of Tenerife’ letter to The Times when I spotted the counter-signatory requirements. Even though I no longer reside in the UK, I still have to have my application and photograph countersigned by a UK citizen who is a JP, MP, police officer, established civil servant, doctor, engineer or similar professional person who’s known me for at least 2 years. This is a Catch 22 clause; anyone who’s living here and therefore in a position to counter-sign, cannot possibly be a UK JP, MP, Police Officer etc as they’re no longer resident in the UK.

Luckily, my friend Brian was coming out on holiday and being an established civil servant, was able to step into the breach.


Of course, I forgot all about the passport in the general fun of having a visitor and it wasn’t until his last day, on an outing to Icod de los Vinos, that Brian reminded me I needed to get a photo for him to sign and so I ducked into one of the many photography studios that they have here in the Canaries and asked if she was able to supply photos for a UK passport. She assured me she was and in 10 minutes the deed was all done and the photos were in my bag. No make-up and hair that should have been washed yesterday resulting in the sort of photograph that’s usually accompanied by a charge sheet and a cell for the night… and it’s going to be with me for the next 10 years.


The application was duly despatched the following Monday (photo €3, recorded delivery €1.50, running total now €204.50), and on Friday last week I received a phone call from a courier to come and sign for a package. I was about to forgive all in my astonishment at the efficiency of the British Embassy until I tore open the packet and there was my application form and old passport. They’d been returned to me on the grounds that the photograph didn’t meet their requirements. The eyes were not in the grey band area as illustrated and the crown and chin fell outside of the designated areas as shown.

Ruud van Nistelrooy, this photo would be rejected for sure My husband said it’s because I’ve got such a long face and we both wondered how Ruud van Nistelrooy got his passport photo passed.

Just to add insult to injury, I’d been charged €15 courier fee for its return (€219.50 and rising).


I’m beside myself with rage. I want to pick up the phone and rant at someone but the website tells me that’ll coast me €1.16 per minute and they’ll probably leave me on hold for a fiver or more.

So now I have to get another photo (€3.50), send it back to the UK for counter signing (€1.50 plus 2 weeks delay), re-send it to the Embassy (€1.50) and pay again for the courier service (€15). So far, my renewal is estimated at a staggering €242.50 and I’m still a long way from a new passport.

On the plus side, I’ll be able to glam up for the next photo but I’ll have to not think about what it’s all costing me or the long face’ll never fit that damn outline.


Incidentally, there is NO WAY I’m putting the photo on here to accompany this little tale, I’m taking it to the garden to be un-ceremoniously burned.

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