Do not pass go. Do not collect passport.

I travel a lot for work, and to some odd places. This means my passport is often sitting at embassies waiting for a visa while I should be somewhere else. No problem – this is what second passports are for.

Except I’m British and I have the audacity to live somewhere else. As we can no longer get passports at embassies, I had the choice between sending off my first passport and waiting up to six weeks – which would defeat the point of the whole exercise – or going to the UK in person for the same day service. I chose the latter.

Now, three passports would be useful

There is no official guidance online for a second passport so I rang the call centre in Scotland, repeatedly. The information generally varied but eventually I thought I had it figured out and off I went. Only to find my company letter didn’t make the grade as it was signed by an Administration Manager rather than an HR Manager. It would have been nice if they’d mentioned this on the phone. It was a week before the next available appointment, so I had to come back.

This time I was more confident – after all, I had learnt the intricacies of the system the hard way. But this time I barely managed to get into the building, as my name had been taken down incorrectly. When I finally got in, the process went smoothly enough, except for the British government refusing to call a foreign mobile number if there were any later questions about the application (thankfully there weren’t). The passport arrived – late, which seemed a little rude given I had paid 130 quid for the pleasure, plus the two journeys – but it arrived, and be grateful for small mercies etc. By that point, I had almost given up on ever getting the thing.

So for the record, you will need a letter from your company on headed notepaper setting out where you will be travelling to and specifying that these countries need visas and/or are incompatible with each other (eg if you have to visit Israel and Saudi Arabia). It must be signed by either someone senior (VP, director etc) or in human resources (eg HR manager). It must be addressed to the passport office. There are some examples elsewhere online (note I did not need all the documents specified in that link – but I offer no guarantees). You will need your existing passport and two photos, which do not need to be countersigned (but I would recommend a spare set that are, and application filled in as appropriate, just in case). You will need a lot of patience, and luck.

And most of all, you should make sure the call centre operators repeat everything back to you, and ideally call two, three or even more times to confirm everything. My advice would be one of the following: don’t travel a lot for work; don’t be British; or don’t live abroad.

And to top off my adventures, I very nearly missed my flight back due to traffic and a rubbish bus service, and was saved only by 50 quid on a cab.

It’s only been eight months, admittedly, but I have never been so glad to get back to Copenhagen.


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