Michael Wharton There Is Always A Theory: politics, anarchy, religion, atheism and science. now with poetry!


Renewing An Irish Passport in the UK

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I am a British citizen; let's get that out of the way. I lived in Ireland for many years in my teens and moved form Ireland to Manchester to attend University, and before moving I applied for an Irish passport. There were several factors in making my decision; cost, ease and timescale. I may have left it a little late, and living in Ireland makes it very difficult to apply for a British passport, which is more expensive to apply for your first passport than the Irish one. As my mother is Irish and my father is English, I am eligible for either, so I decided to go for the Irish option.

Fast-forward to ten years later and I am now living in England, trying to get my Irish passport renewed. As it turns out, the Irish embassy has provided a handy guide to how to do this, which is all relatively straightforward until you come to the part where you have to get your photographs "endorsed" by someone.


Unfortunately, of the people on this list produced in Ireland, many seem confused as to the social responsibility they signed up for when they pursued their career initially. I myself would relish the opportunity to flex my community muscles, as it were, if I were one of those on the list. If I were a police officer, it would make my day for a young person to come into my station and I could help him with his forms, stamp and sign and feel like an authoritative member of society, which is why I would have become a police officer or bank manager or, lawyer in the first place. Maybe that's just me.

I thought I would get my MP to do it, but due entirely to my own foolishness I left it too late, and parliament dissolved, rendering my MP powerless to help me as he is now just some guy I met last time he was campaigning. Wanting to get it done sooner rather than later, I first tried the police station. On the weekend I cycled all the way from Withington to Didsbury only to find out that Didsbury Police Station is a Police station in name only, no actual police inside. So after work, I cycled to Lonsight police station which was manned by two female PCSOs who initially seemed not to know for certain what to do, discussing various reasons why they wouldn't endorse it. One reason they mentioned (with a straight face) was that they wouldn't endorse it in case I was actually a wanted criminal in Ireland. They followed this up by theorising that if the newspapers found out that a Manchester police officer had endorsed my application it would cause a scandal. They touched on the fact that they believed that I have to have known the individual for at least 2 years, as it is with an INITIAL UK passport application; this is not the case. I explained the facts of the case and they seemed to think it over before confidently claiming that they had seen them get rejected in the past, when UK officers filled it as it has to be a member of Garda Síochána and that I should "Google it". Well I did "Google it", I even tweeted my Embassy and they have reassured me that they would not reject the application if a UK police officer had endorsed it, and that unfortunately they can't force people to live up to their end of the social contract they agreed to when they applied for their career path.

Shortly after my less than helpful encounter with the police, I decided that maybe my local Reverend would be helpful and full of Christian charity. I may have been wrong about this, she turned me away without listening to me very well, insisting that she had to have known me for 2 years, the same story I was to hear again and again, despite it not being the case at all. She did have someone with her and I can understand her desire to get back to that person quickly if they were known for their petty theft when left unattended for periods longer that 3 minutes.

The following day I didn't start work until 12:30 so I cycled into Manchester City centre to visit as many High street Banks as I could, to get my application endorsed by a "bank official". I arrived at my own personal bank, believing that I had the best chance with the Co-operative; they have it in the name! Unfortunately the branch manager was unavailable so I had to try Halifax, who point blank refused, without going into any actual detail as to why. They will only Endorse or stamp internal documents. Full-stop. Okay, on to Barclay's, who were bend over backwards helpful, but unfortunately their branch manager was at the same meeting that every other bank manager was at that day. Santander and NatWest point blank refused, Lloyds had nobody to speak to. I had zero faith that I would genuinely get any help from a Bank, but still didn't think that they would quite be so obstructively unhelpful. I headed into work and on my lunch break went to the nearest doctor's surgery.

I walked in and confidently approached the counter asking if the Dr had any free time to take 5 minutes to endorse my form. The receptionist gave me 3 mutually exclusive excuses as to why this would not happen today; 1 this Doctor would not endorse my application because I am registered with a different Doctor, and he has to have known me for two years... 2 The Doctor doesn't get a spare 5 minutes as he has to do lots of admin work between patients, so I should book an appointment if I want my Doc to sign and endorse my form, 3 There is a £20 administration fee to pay. On the list of authorised professions, is accountant, lawyer and notary public, all of whom I expect without even asking would charge me to do this, but I really did not expect the Doctor to charge. I didn't even want to get the Dr to do it as he has sick people to deal with, who are his priority. For all I know my appointment will be cancelled to deal with a real patient, or emergency.

So the story is not over, I am still looking for someone to do it for me!

If you are an Irish Passport holder and have been through this; then please leave a comment with tips for me and others on how to get around this bureaucratic headache.

With as little expense as possible!

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  1. So an update on my progress, since my post I have spoken to several people to try and resolve this issue, with mixed levels of success. I have most recently had some success with the fact that my cousin’s husband works for a bank in Buxton. Hopefully he will be able to endorse the photos and the form and it will be sorted! Further update to follow on the success of that!

  2. Since you wrote this in 2015 it’s actually gotten worse. My GP won’t sign it even for cash money. That aside, I’ve had virtually the same experience as you. Pharmacist is on the list, but they are now declining to sign too. I’m stunned how borderline impossible this is just to get a signature saying a photo looks like me, and how the responsible people have abandoned their civic duties.

  3. As it goes Antony, my cousin’s husband totally sorted it out! Time to make bessies with your bank manager methinks!

  4. Can’t a teacher do it? I’m in the middle of applying and wondering who to get to do it? My friend is a teacher but she hasn’t got a stamp which they say is t compulsory but she hasn’t got a business card either….

  5. The Irish Embassy in London provides updated information for customers, in a three page photocopied official notice, which should have been enclosed with each Passport form. This has the file reference ‘Rev 06/03/2015′ at the foot of the second page.

    On page 2 of this notice, in section 8 are the instructions on ‘Acceptable Witnesses [Certificate of Identity - Section 9 ...']

    That lists ALL acceptable witnesses. The list is much more detailed than on the Passport form itself at Section 9, in the black block of text.

    NOTE especially that: ‘Medical Doctor’ on the passport form broadens in this guidance to ‘Medical Doctor,
    ‘Lawyer’ broadens to include ‘Lawyer,
    ‘Bank Manager/Assistant Bank Manager’ on the passport form is replaced by

    ‘Elected Public Representative’ is broadened to
    ‘Commissioner for Oaths, Peace Commissioner’ are broadened to include
    A new category is added
    A new category is added
    ‘School Principal/ Vice Principal’ is unchanged
    ‘Accountant’ is unchanged.

    They go on to tell you what you need to do.
    In particular, in bold text, it tells us
    ‘The witness does not need to know the applicant for any length of time provided they are satisfied as to your identiity’
    They also say
    ‘If the witness does not have an official stamp …. A business card can additionally be enclosed if there is no witness stamp available.’

    Top Tip
    Most solicitors offices will have several people qualified to witness paassport forms, including Commissioners for Oaths, and will be used to signing official documents for strangers who walk in off the street.
    Ask them how much they charge.

  6. That’s really helpful! Thanks Chris! A problem some people have is that even showing the person the rules won’t convince them to endorse it because they cling on to their preconceived notions that they must have known you for 2 years. I printed out a page from the Irish embassy website, even showed them the live site on my phone but they weren’t budging!

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