Renewing my British passport overseas

It’s 14 months since I began the process of applying for my Irish citizenship, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen any time soon, what with the increase in other British people going for Irish citizenship. And so while I can’t get my Irish passport, I need to renew my British one.

If memory serves, the last time I had to renew my passport I had to apply through the British Embassy here in Dublin, which meant my passport was issued by the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office).

This time around I’m able to use the online renewal service, and I’ve got to say, I’m actually quite impressed about how well it works!

Renewal Process

After answering a few screening questions to check if I was suitable for online renewal, I was then offered advice about my passport photo.

The photo can be one of the following:

  • A photo taken in a photo booth that gives a special code that can be shared with the passport authorities to retrieve the digital image
  • A photo taken by another passport photo establishment such as a pharmacy where they can give me the electronic image to upload
  • A photo you take myself – or rather by someone else – as long as it conforms to the photo rules

The fact that I was able to take my own photo was great as it saved me a few quid. I got my wife to take a photo of me against the kitchen wall using my mobile phone and it was perfectly fine.

I then answered a set of questions about me and my previous passport, upload the photo, and that was it. The whole thing took less than 5 minutes!

As soon as my application was in they sent me an email with a postal address (mine was in Belfast) to post the old passport.

Frequent Updates

I love the fact that the process sends out frequent updates on what’s happening, by email, SMS, or both.

I got a notification when they received my old passport in the post, another when my application was approved, another when it was printed, and another when it was dispatched.

And from the time they received my passport in Belfast to when it was dispatched was just 2 days. So the only long waits for me were the postage of passports back and forth.

Mine was delivered by DHL, and they seem to have the restriction that they only deliver to the home address stated in the application, and there does need to be someone in to sign for it – but that seems like good security.


I wasn’t at home to receive the passports in person (they send back the old passport and new one in different packages), but I was able to get them redirected to a DHL office that’s only a 15 minute walk from my office.

So here’s my old and new passports together. You can see I got one of the amended design which omit the words “European Union” from the top.