UK Passport Interview Explained

applicant that came to answer the officer's questions

Understandably, having to attend an interview may seem like a big deal. However, while it is important for applicants and the government, there is no need to treat your interview as an interrogation. Provided there aren’t any fraud concerns, it’s nowhere close to that, so relax.

That said, it won’t hurt to understand the ins and outs of the process, including why the HM Passport Office conducts interviews, when you may be required to attend one, what happens during an interview,
and what questions you can expect.

Why Does HMPO Hold Interviews?

It is an integral part of the application process, playing a crucial role in the security of the passport system. The Passport Office has implemented this measure to prevent identity theft or fraud. Basically, a passport interview is arranged to ensure that the new passport goes to the correct person stated on the application and in the Home Office records.

Do I Need a Passport Interview?

Not every applicant will need to go through one (otherwise, the passport office would be flooded with interviewees, right?).

Typically, an interview is required for those
who apply for their first British passport and are over 16.

And even if you meet both criteria, it doesn’t mean that you’ll certainly get an invitation from the UK passport office–you just might receive one.

If you’re worried you may miss it, don’t. In case you’re needed, they will contact you themselves after you apply for your first UK passport. When they do, you’ll need to book an appointment at a certain time and place–if you’re applying from the UK, you’ll most likely be able to choose a convenient time and an interview location that’s easy to commute to.

You can schedule it by calling the Interview Appointment Booking Service (don’t forget your appointment letter or email when attending).

What Happens at a Passport Interview?

Although the whole thing is not that big of a deal, understanding the process can ease any anxiety you might have. Since an interview is basically conducted to confirm you are the applicant, you will be assigned to a customer service officer who will ask you a series of questions. The types and number of these questions will vary from person to person–those applying for UK passports can never know what exactly they’ll be asked. So, it’s worth going through the whole list to make sure you’re all set.

Passport Interview Questions

Here’s a list of information you may need to disclose:

  • Personal Details: Full name, its spelling and all name changes (if you’ve had any).
  • Address Details: Your current address and length of stay, ownership or rental status, postal code, property description (like number of bedrooms, etc.) and previous residences.
  • Your Background: Place of birth, date of entry to the UK (if applicable), occupation, workplace details, employment duration.
  • Naturalization (If Applicable): UK visa and naturalization status, date and ceremony details.
  • Previous Passports and Nationality (If Applicable): Issuing place and validity period of your old passport and if you intend to continue using it.
  • Household Bills: Your gas/electric supplier, car insurance provider, telephone company, bank details and additional accounts.
  • Spouse or Partner (If Applicable): Their citizenship and occupation, how you met, marriage/civil partnership details and the length of your relationship.
  • Children (If Applicable): How many children you have, their birthdates, ages and school information.
  • Parents: Their names, birthdates, citizenship, residence and number of siblings.
  • Passport Co-signer: Their full name, occupation and workplace, how you met and how long you’ve known each other.

Remember that your interview office isn’t an interrogation room, and these questions are meant only to ensure that the information you provided in the application for your adult passport is actually correct.

Prepare well and be truthful, and you’ll avoid any complications whatsoever.

In addition to questions, your passport officer will perform some visual checks. For example, they can compare your signature with the one on the passport issuing system and/or check that your new passport photo is the true likeness of you.

If you need a fully compliant picture that will pass all checks, consider using our website to get your perfect picture–for example, you can get valid passport photos exactly like those from a Boots photo booth.

Can You Fail Your Interview?

The purpose of passport interviews is not to intimidate applicants and make them fail but rather to confirm they are who they claim to be. However, if there are inconsistencies in your answers or if you fail to provide satisfactory proof, it could lead to delays in the processing of your British passport application. Therefore, honesty and thorough preparation are essential.

If you’re truthful, failure is very unlikely,
since the whole process is only aimed to confirm your identity.

How Long Does an Interview Take?

Most passport interviews usually take between 10 and 30 minutes, but the duration can vary. If your situation is complex or involves multiple applicants (for example, when the parent accompanies a child applicant), it might take longer for the UK passport office to handle it.

To give a good start for a smooth and efficient interview, arrive on time
and make sure you have all the supporting documents with you.

Passport Interview Online

In some cases, applicants are offered phone and video interviews, which can be more convenient. Whether or not it’ll be a face-to-face conversation depends on where you’re based–in the United Kingdom or overseas.

All in all, there are three passport interview scenarios:

  • A face-to-face session (with a wide variety of interview locations) or the Video Interview Service (VIS) for those who live in remote areas

  • VIS interview for overseas customers (some form of photo identification is required; attended from an overseas visa application centre)

  • Telephone Interview Service provided exclusively to residents of USA, Canada and Australia

The passport service conducts online and telephone interviews via Skype and does it the same way as offline ones (i.e. by asking a series of questions). If offered one of these remote interviews, make sure you have a reliable internet connection or signal and a suitable device for the interview.

British Passport Interview: Closing Thoughts

While the idea may seem daunting, undergoing a passport interview is a necessary step taken for security purposes. As long as you approach it with the right mindset and the proper preparation, there’s no reason to be overly concerned about it.

By providing accurate information, having all your documents in order, and being ready to answer the above questions, you will navigate the whole interview process with confidence.