Today we went into the US embassy in London to apply for Simon’s passport and register him as a US citizen. The trip was successful – our paperwork and photos were accepted and a passport for the little man should arrive in about two weeks. This post will cover our experience today and top tips for anyone applying to register a birth abroad in the UK and apply for a US passport for the baby.
We made an appointment about 3 weeks ago. Appointments are opened up a few days at a time – and they go quickly – so I checked every time I walked by the computer one morning and was able to grab a slot when I checked about 11am. Not saying that is definitively when they open up slots – but one data point.
Our appointment was at 2pm so we left the house about 11 to allow for traffic, feeding the boy when we got into town and any security delays. We parked at the Park Lane car park – just a 5-10 minute walk from the embassy. When parking at the car park take the marble arch exit and save yourself a lot of walking. Also of interest is that the car park has an amazing assortment of exotic cars parked inside – our Honda fit right in ;-)
We went to the embassy straight away to check on the security situation. The embassy has two entrances – one for visas and one for US citizen services. When we arrived there was no visible queue of either entrance – and the friendly met police guys outside said that there wouldn’t be a wait to get in to the citizen services unit. So – off in search of a coffee shop to sit and feed Simon and get something to eat. We headed north towards Oxford Street and found a Starbucks two blocks away. They had comfy chairs at the back and it made for a good place to give Simon’s bottle. (in fact another family we saw in there also turned up at the embassy a little later)
At about 10 til 2 we headed back to the Embassy to go through security. The website made a big deal about not taking your mobile phone – but in fact they will keep your mobiles, cameras or other electronic devices at security. This would have saved us a lot of grief (and allowed you some photos of our visit). They checked our passports and put our stuff through the metal detector. They confiscated our car keys (the car clicker is an electronic device) and made me drink from Simon’s bottle – just like at the airport.
We arrived in the waiting room about 1:50 – and the unit was closed for lunch. When they opened at 2 they started processing people in the order they arrived – not based on appointment time – so arriving early is helpful to avoid a wait.
When we were called forward they collected our original documents (both parents passports, marriage certificate and baby’s long form birth register) and the photos of Simon for the passport. They also had us correct some missing information and fill out a single sided passport application (ours had been printed double-sided). Then we paid ($160) at another window and returned the receipt and corrected form back to the window. We were called again about 20 minutes later to correct a more subtle omission and confirm some questions they had. Then back to our chairs for another wait. The third time we were asked to take an oath that we hadn’t lied on our forms and they returned our original documents. They told us the new passport would be mailed to us in approximately 2 weeks.
We’re happy to have this major bit of paperwork done. Once the passport comes we need to get an entry visa for the UK then we’ll be good to travel. After our summer trip to the States, Steve and I need to get extra pages added. Ah – the joys of living abroad. Oh, and by the way, happy tax day to our Yankee countrymen.
- Make an appointment in plenty of time
- Convenient parking can be found at the Park Place car park
- There is a handy Starbucks for feeding and killing a short amount of time two blocks north on Audley Street
- You CAN take your mobile with you, you will just have to leave at security
- Submit your forms on single sided printouts (they can’t process the passport app double-sided)
- Taking a passport photo of an infant is a whole ‘nother blog post