UK Child Passport Application (note FCO Birth Certificate for British Citizen born overseas is worthless)

Not really sure if this is the right section for this but here goes…

Executive Summary
The FCO birth certificate issued to British citizens born overseas is expensive and useless. Passport applications for British citizens born in Taiwan to one British and one Taiwanese parent need the following documentation when applied for from the UK (different requirements may exist if applying from overseas):

  • British parent’s long-form birth certificate (can be applied for online for around £10)
  • Child’s Taiwanese hospital birth certificate (English)
  • Child’s Taiwanese passport if available
    - Child’s household registration transcript (English)
  • 2 Photos, one of which must be countersigned (specs on website here: refer to height from crown to chin but the actual specification is hidden elsewhere: - if your photos don’t fit this eye-distance template they’ll be rejected.)
  • Application form (countersigned)

Long version

I recently returned to the UK for a month and decided to apply for a British passport for my three-year old son. My decision to do this in the UK rather than from Taiwan was motivated by the difficulty I’d have in Taiwan of meeting the requirement for citizens applying for a first-time passport to have applications countersigned by a British (or Commonwealth) citizen of “good standing” in the community (i.e. a doctor, lawyer, police officer, school teacher etc.) who has known the applicant (or applicant’s parent/guardian) for two years or longer. (At this point it’s well worth noting that I don’t even know for sure if overseas applicants still need this countersignature; at some point over the last three or four years the process for applying for a passport from overseas has been “streamlined” and the main data is input into an online form. You can’t actually see what documents you require, the photo specifications, or any countersignatory requirements until AFTER you’ve paid for an application).

Among the many conditions and possibilities for transmitting British nationality to children born overseas, my son’s case is among the simplest. As he was born after 2006 it is only necessary for him to prove that one of his parents (i.e. me: his father) is a British citizen and that I was born in the UK. The proof of this is my birth certificate (and my British passport number on the form). The second piece of evidence is his own birth certificate showing my name as his father. (There is no general need for this sort of national to obtain a “Citizenship Certificate” or some other similar document as acquisition of British citizenship is automatic at birth).

When my son was born in 2013 I figured that registering his birth with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (and hence having his name entered into the General Register Offices) would be a good way of future-proofing proof of his citizenship. Should anything happen to me, his original Taiwanese birth certificates, the hospital where he was born, or hell, even the whole country, he’d have evidence of his British parentage. I had no reason to suspect that this line of reasoning was completely flawed and I must counsel anyone considering doing the same to just not bother. When I did it it was something like £65 but now it costs a whopping £150 plus £25 for the return of your documents and if you desperately need the birth certificate (I can’t see why you would) it’s another £50 (but wait a year and it’ll cost just £10).

For the record, the documents required for his birth registration were originals of:

  • both Chinese and English versions of the child’s birth certificate
  • the long version of the parent’s birth certificate showing the child’s grandparents’ details (for parents who were born in the UK)
  • the parents’ marriage or civil partnership certificate (if applicable)
  • evidence that the parents’ previous marriages or civil partnerships have ended (eg divorce or death certificates)

So back to the passport application.

It takes three weeks to get a passport in the UK - if there are no problems with the application. I figured it was worth paying the extra for premium (8-day) service as I’d lose several days in the UK getting photographs, getting the application countersigned, and getting in line for an appointment. Eventually, my interview date was 14 days before my departure date (i.e. right in the middle of my trip). I made the trip to Liverpool and saw an agent at around my scheduled time. The agent was satisfied with my application and commented on how well organized it was. Aside from the application form and photographs, I also offered my birth certificate, my son’s FCO birth certificate, his Taiwanese (hospital) birth certificate (English only) and my marriage certificate. Only the first two were retained - which is pretty much in line with my expectation from reading the application guidelines. The agent explicitly stated that the FCO birth certificate would be enough.

Naturally, it wasn’t enough. Two days later (a Friday of course), I received a phone call from the passport office telling me that they needed the Taiwanese hospital certificate. As if that wasn’t enough (having already offered it in person I wasn’t exactly happy at the news), the manager then got on the phone to tell me that the passport office also needed my son’s Household Registration transcript. Apparently, the reasons I was given for this were to prove that the child’s birth was registered within 60 days as required by Taiwanese law(!). And that the Passport Office no longer trusts FCO birth certificates because the FCO has been known to issue British birth certificates to people who can’t claim British nationality (!!!).

I tried telling the passport office that if they’re so knowledgable about Taiwanese law regarding registration times, they should also be aware that the Household Registration transcript doesn’t give them any information beyond what they already have. In terms of proving registration of birth, my son’s Taiwanese passport has a Taiwanese ID on it - and the only way to get an ID number is to be registered on the household registry. In terms of proving parentage, the transcript only “proves” the parentage of the Taiwanese parent; the foreign parent’s name is basically copied from the hospital birth certificate. Needless to say they were deaf to this line of reasoning.

The English language transcript of the HHR documentation usually takes a week or so to come through. It being a Friday when I received the news nothing could be done till the week after. My wife managed to get it done in two days and had it sent to the passport office but it still didn’t arrive in time to get my lad’s passport before I left the UK. Luckily, the passport office was more accommodating in this area and they asked me to return to Liverpool to pick up my son’s Taiwanese passport before they’d received the HHR transcript, then they sent the UK passport to my mother’s address (when the original application had been in my name). She received it three days after I left (total turnaround time: 17 days, additional costs aside from increased blood pressure during the initial phone call: extra trip to Liverpool, HHR transcript plus postage, postage fees for passport plus documents to be sent from the UK to Taiwan).

My son was born in China. For his Irish passport application I gave them an application form, his birth cert, my birth cert, and a photocopy of my passport. No hiccups.

A British friend of mine did the same in China via the embassy and he got the passport and a national social insurance number in about a month. He got a British teacher to witness the application form.

I think the whole registration of births abroad only becomes relevant if there is a couple of generations born overseas.

The procedure for applying for a child’s first passport in China is different for two reasons. The first is that Britain has consulates in China (and requires applicants to appear in person at one of those consulates). The second is that British citizens born in China have to apply with the paper application form that is no longer usable by those born in Taiwan (and a number of other countries I guess).

As I said above, British citizens with children born in Taiwan who wish to apply from Taiwan will need to fill in the online form, and since document requirements are only made visible AFTER making payment it’s impossible to ascertain what they are unless you actually make an application first.

Yea, in any case it sounds like they gave you a wind up. I know how stressful that can be. It seems like they are way offside talking about Taiwanese law, household registration, passports and stuff like that.The only thing that they should concern themselves with is the Birth cert. All those other things are none of their business. Ah well, at least next time you can just submit the expired passport with the application.

Thanks for posting this. My son is due in a few weeks time and this will be very useful. :slight_smile:


I’m in the same situation and was preparing documents for the birth certificate before reading this thread.

I have a question about names. I want my son’s UK passport to have his English name.

We got two birth certificates from the hospital in Taiwan - one in Chinese, the other in English.

The English birth certificate has his English name (not the Pinyin version of his Chinese name). But his Taiwan passport shows the Pinyin version of his Chinese name.

I am worried that a problem might arise if we try to apply for a UK passport using his English name, as his Taiwan passport shows his Pinyinized name.

Basically I want him to have a proper English name and not a Pinyinized Taiwanese name on his UK passport.

Does anyone have any experience with this?

You might already be sunk. I can’t remember exactly what we did now (I think I took advice from elsewhere on this board) but my son’s Taiwanese passport doesn’t have the Pinyin version of his name anywhere in it. It’s different to my wife’s passport, which has three names on two cells like this:
Name (Surname/Given Names):
Name in characters, same in pinyin
Also known as:
English name

My son’s passport says:
Name (Surname/Given Names):
Name in Characters, English name

We were very insistent on it being done like that, and while my son’s entry on our household registry in Chinese makes no mention of his English name, the English version of the HHR document has his full English name.

You should check if your son’s English name is in the English version of the household registry. If it’s not, and his Taiwanese passport already looks like, I have a feeling you won’t get what you want. Good luck; I hope I’m wrong!

Thanks for the reply. We already have a plane ticket in his name now so I’ll leave it like it is for now.

When we return I’ll look into having the passport amended, and sort the UK passport at a later date.

We just checked and an existing passport can add an “Also known as” name for free, but it takes two days to process.

Or a brand new passport can be ordered, altering the English name, this costs $900 and is the same process as applying for a new passport.

So when we come back to Taiwan I’ll make the adjustments to the passport and then do the UK passport next year.

Thanks @spaint for posting this info.

I wanted for my son to have two legal names Chinese and English. He was born in the PRC and they only will record one name on the birth cert. We went with English only after a bit of teeth grinding. The Irish side were the same and also said that they will only accept one legal name, and if its Chinese that means you get pinyin only on your passport…no thank you very much

We finally got my son’s UK passport during a recent trip back to the UK. The requirements differed slightly from @spaint 's original post.

At first we only went in with the English version of the birth certificate. But the application was rejected because the ‘format’ was not correct.

It turns out that in addition to the English version, they also require the original Taiwanese version. The version that the hospital registers the birth with the Taiwanese government with. This version didn’t even have a name on it, just that a baby had been born and who the parents were. The passport office checked that the hospital’s stamp on this original version against the stamp on the English version to verify its legitimacy.

The Taiwanese household registration was not required, though I asked her to take it anyway (given OP’s experience of them requesting it later).

My British passport was also not required (she said they only needed to see it during the application), but again I told her to take it anyway, just in case. They also didn’t want my birth certificate since checking my passport was sufficient as I was “already in the system”.

Supposedly if I had been born after '83 then things would be very different and I would have had to verify my own British citizenship by providing my parents birth certificates.

I’d still advise anyone doing this to prepare everything, and get all your documents in order before you leave Taiwan. You don’t want to be phoning back to Taiwan to have people rush about getting documentation for you and DHLing to you at great expense.

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@spaint @analogue40 @Milkybar_Kid

When you applied for the first British passport for your Taiwan born, Taiwan national child, did you have to translate documents that only come in Chinese or does the Home Office have Chinese speakers who process applications from Taiwan/China? For example, they now ask for birth certificates of all grandparents (including Taiwanese), and only Chinese versions are available.

When dealing with any government, it’s pretty standard to have to translate every document into the official language of that government. Analogue40’s experience of them needing the Chinese language birth certificate of the child is unusual but since the English version is effectively an “official English translation” (even though the child’s name will differ) I guess it negated the need for an actual translation.

This is pretty messed up. I seem to recall some ambiguity in the wording back when I did this that implied all such birth certificates were needed but in the end they weren’t, and I think because you’re attempting this not just from overseas but from Taiwan (where there isn’t even any official government representation) you’re going to struggle to get the right answers.

The fact is, Taiwan’s HHR transcripts are effectively birth certificates. When my family immigrated to Canada, these transcripts were used as proof of parentage, dates of birth, names etc. In retrospect I shouldn’t have been surprised by the UK passport office requesting this document, assuming they know as much about Taiwanese law as they pretend to. Where the UK has a registrar of births and deaths who issues certificates and from which you can obtain a copy of a birth certificate, Taiwanese birth certificates are issued by the hospitals while the “registrar” function is basically performed by the HHR system.

I believe if you’re able to get through to a human being with some knowledge at the passport office you’ll discover that the HHR transcripts are actually what they want/need - especially given the potential difficulty of obtaining grandparents’ original birth certificates and the near impossibility of getting copies of same.

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I actually managed to obtain the birth certificates quite easily from the household registration office. They are not originals, but certified copies. I’ll try and get an answer from the UK. They also ask for the marriage certificate of the child’s grandparents, but strangely not the marriage certificate of the parents… I think your right about the household registration certificate, it should be more than enough.

Me again. Going to submit my application on Monday after finally getting all the documents translated and notarized. Does anybody know or remember if birth certificates and such are returned with the passport? A bit worried about sending my dad’s original birth certificate and them not returning it.

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I did my son’s application in person in Liverpool so they never actually took the documents off me. I’d assume they send them back but if they don’t a replacement is (or was) 10 quid.

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