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Renewing a UK passport in Spain

When you come to renew your British passport abroad it is a different process to when you are in the UK. It’s also more expensive. Here are some guidelines for renewing your UK passport when you live in Spain.


There are four ways in which you can renew your passport:

• Send the form off yourself from Spain
• Go to Madrid
• Return to the UK to obtain your new passport
• Or use a service like ‘Check and Send’

Completing the form

If you choose to process your application yourself you need to allocate plenty of time and read through the instructions very carefully. The passport photo is a particular hurdle to negotiate. The guidelines for this have become tighter and it must:

• Have a cream or pale grey background
• A neutral expression – no smiling!
• Be printed on high quality photographic paper
• Have a clear view of your face – no stray hairs

You need to obtain a counter-signatory to the application – someone who has known you for at least two years and is a practising or retired professional. They can be either a Spanish national or a British subject holding a British Passport.

You need to complete a debit/credit card authorisation form as this is the only way that the Consulate fee can be paid. If you don’t have a card and you are using someone else’s then a copy of their passport must accompany your application and they must sign the debit/credit card authorisation form.

If you choose a ‘check and send’ option then once your form has been thoroughly scrutinised for errors it is sent by secure courier service to the Consulate in Madrid for processing. The new passport is then returned and you will be contacted to collect it. Don’t forget to take it to your bank to have the new number registered against your account.

Applying in the UK

If you are planning a return visit to the UK of over three weeks and within nine months of your passport expiring you can use the fast track system over there. The Post Office Check and Send service is one option but you must be available at the address identified on your form to sign for it when it arrives.

If you only have a short stay in the UK you can go directly to the six Passport Processing Centres that have a turn around time of between seven and 10 days. However, it is not guaranteed that the passport will be returned in this time and you might prefer to access their urgent application service instead. You need to make an appointment for this but you can book up to two weeks before hand.

What you shouldn’t do

Don’t attempt to bypass the system by sending your passport back to the UK for friends and family to send off for you. This is illegal and if you are caught you will lose your application fee and most likely have to return to the UK and attend a processing centre to obtain a new passport and explain your actions. Of course, if you do this you will also have to apply for an emergency passport at around €120 for your return trip. Not a cheap option if you consider the cost of flights etc. on top.

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Ábaco Asesores

Ábaco Asesores is a firm of lawyers and tax advisers established on the Costa Blanca in 1999. We have clients all over the world and provide legal and tax advice in seven different languages.

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