UK Passport renewal in Munich

I noticed that I have to renew my passport which expires next month. Looks like I have to post it off to Dusseldorf. I was surprised to still see this remnant of the class system on the application form notes.

“Someone who has known you personally for at least two years should complete and sign Section 10. That person should be a British citizen, other British national or Commonwealth citizen who is a Member of Parliament, Justice of the Peace, Minister of Religion, Bank Officer, Established Civil Servant, or professionally qualified person, e.g. Lawyer, Engineer, Doctor, School Teacher, Police Officer or a person of similar standing.”

I remember something similar to this years ago, either when I renewed my driving licence or the last time I renewed my passport. I thought they’d have fixed it by now.

British people understand that “of similar standing” means “better than you”, or “one of us”, depending on who you are, and that it has the effect of reducing access for people who don’t move in those social circles. The class system is the thing I feel most relieved to escape by living in Germany.

I guess I’ll have to find some Brit somewhere who I more or less known who is an engineer of something. Can’t I just be a citizen of the EU, please?

13 thoughts on “UK Passport renewal in Munich

  1. I also need to renew my passport in the next few weeks, but I noted that for a renewal I did not need to get the photos “witnessed”, perhaps it’s different when renewing from abroad?

    I’ve been asked to sign photos for other people which I’ve happily done even though I’m not on any such list, and in the past when I have needed photos signing I’ve used any convenient person rather than tracked down a member of that list, just make up your own definition of “similar standing” undermining the class system is the best way to tackle it :-)

  2. You ran into the same situation I did trying to renew my Canadian passport. Since 2001, Canada has the added irritant that they request a birth certificate issued less than 10 years ago and by the specific province in which you were born. This was not the case back when I left Canada; back then, a baptism certificate from the parish was enough. Caveat emptor: Quebec does not allow ordering a birth certificate copy from abroad, except by FAX, and even that possibility was discontinued for a while. I came this close to not being able to renew my passport, had it not be for my father to use his connections and order a birth certificate copy on my behalf. Even worse, my father told me that the clerk at the civil registry told him that they were about to close that loophole; one month later and I would have had to pay myself an expensive round-trip, just to renew the passport of a country whose citizenship I don’t even want.

  3. I forgot to mention: that was the situation in November 2002, before they introduced biometric passports and whatnots. My passport is good until late-2007, but since I’m about to renew my visa in Finland, I’ll also need a passport that is valid for at least 1 year past the visa’s expiry date, which means getting a new passport earlier than expected. I can only imagine what sort of nonsense they came up with this time… Enough with this nonsense! Gimme EU citizenship!

  4. “That person should be a British citizen, […] who is a […] School Teacher, Police Officer or a person of similar standing.”
    Since when do School Teachers and Coppers get any respect here?

    Mind that this is slightly easier in some other countries, because you just need more paperwork (you hand over your ID card and birth certificate in France to get your passport renewed).

  5. Given the amount of chav scum in Britain at the moment, they’d do well to keep that class requirement in place. I for one like to get a certain amount recognition for not sitting on my arse sucking off the benefit system.

  6. i’d try to find a british janitor and let him fill out section 10 as “facility manager”.
    if they don’t accept, it would at least make for a funny court case and a new form…

  7. We have a similar law. Basically you have to be anyone who would not be inclined to conduct purgury or fraud because their professionality depended upon it. That is anyone who would find themselves unemployable as a XX if it was found they were lying on your passport form. The list was recently expanded to include nurses and certified engineers, but otherwise includes lawyers, accountants, doctors, pharmacists, police, real estate agents, teachers, etc. etc.

  8. I actually always thought the examples were quite cleverly chosen. I mean, just about everyone is going to know either a doctor, a schoolteacher, or a copper…I can’t think of anyone who hasn’t at least had _one_ of a) something terribly wrong with them, b) an education or c) a life of crime.

  9. Davyd’s right it’s not a class thing as such, even though they list the old professions. Always made me laught that solicitors can get struck off if they commit a “crime of dishonesty” but good old fashioned Grevious Bodily Harm (GBH) is less likely to get you dis-barred :-)

  10. As much as I find the British class sytem irritating, as Davyd said, this is not about class. But do not despair, in this age of identity fraud and general security paranoia it is only a question of time this not very fool-proof system will be done away with; it will be undoubtedly replaced with long queues waiting to apply for passport in person, system well tested behind Iron curtain.

  11. Just got my UK passport renewed at the Tokyo Embassy. Funny, “when does your present passport expire?” is the question never asked. Asked about “ID” Card, but they hadn’t a clue what I meant. “If you want an ID Card, go to the Ward Office”. The last page of the passport has a type of microchip covered with plastic. Was told by an ex-pat staffer that this would be read when I passed through Immigration. Vaguely wonder how it would stand up an intense magnetic field, but I guess that was just the anarchist in me. Once I had the passport, couldn’t resist asking said Brit who I’d go to for surface-to-air missiles in Tipton. Don’t think he’d seen “Road to Guantanamo” though. Nothing much changes at the Brit Embassy. They’ve had that prime piece of real estate since Moses was a boy. The Keystone Kops were still handling security. After 9/11 I got a car into the embassy grounds completely unchecked with no more distraction than a pretty girl at the wheel. More interested in looking down her dress than the boot of the car. “Call yourselves security guards: I’ve seen smarter washerwomen.” Did pass on a “heads up” through unofficial channels, but clearly not acted on. So if you read they were victims of an instant-remodelling job, you’ll know they brought it on themselves. Takes three visits: Pick up the form, as the website is user hostile. Submit the form and collect the passport. Called at lunchtime and the staff, expat and local were busy eating their lunch at the booth windows. The differences being rice balls or sandwiches. Place gets more like third world Asia every day. Remember how you go into a supermarket in downtown Vientiane or Bangkok and the staff are sitting on the floor in the last aisle eating their chicken lemongrass and rice.
    The application form differs I’m told from the one used for UK applicants, presumably less demanding. The co-signatory can present a problem if you assume the requirements are written in stone. Even if you can find a Justice of the Peace, university lecturer or serving police officer in Japan, one than has known you for at least two years can present a problem to those that have been in Japan for less time than that. Fortunately staff will fudge on the required time period and even nationality. So left-handed Irish priest will do just fine. Presumably the effect of shoe bomber Richard Reid are starting to kick in. He was the guy to whom the US judge said, “You’re nothing”. Not quite nothing to the millions of people that have had to take off their shoes and expose their holed socks at US airports. But face it, the US is a far bigger criminal that Richard Reid ever was. Think I’ll check out requirements for nationality at the Canadian Embassy.

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