Leaving The Country With Your Children
I’ve had a couple of really nice holidays this year with my children. We staying in a caravan in south Wales and we enjoyed a week away with friends in Whitstable. We were lucky to have great weather on both holidays but living in sunny Britain, great weather can never be guaranteed.
We have decided to go to Majorca later this year which will be Olivia’s first flight and George’s first flight where he has his own seat. We booked flights as soon as Olivia was born but then the timer started ticking… time to get her first passport.
First Baby Passport
Applying for a first passport is very easy to do online (in the UK). We have a Government gateway where you can update most of your central documents and taxes. Filling out Olivia’s form was simple and only took about 10 minutes. I was able to pay online and print the declaration. Now the fun begins. Time to get the photo!
Baby Passport Photos
So the passport office give you guidelines about what is acceptable for a passport photo.
- Head and shoulders in the shot
- Looking at the camera
- Mouth Closed and no facial expression
- Plain white or cream background
- No visible shadow
All I need to do is explain this to my weeks old baby so we can get her passport sent off and we can enjoy our family holiday.
Most people take the stress out of this by going to a professional photographer who knows how to achieve the desired results and will give you beautiful prints for you to send away. Not me, I have a camera on my phone, of course I can take suitable photo.. can’t I?
It took around an hour but eventually I got some photos that I thought would pass government scrutiny. Here are my tips for taking photos at home:
- Use natural sunlight – Natural sunlight will cast fewer shadows. Photos near a window or outside may be best.
- Avoid Flash – this casts shadows and can also be distressing for baby
- Use a firm surface to lay your baby on – I used a cushioned book slipped into a pillowcase on top of a changing mat. This prevents the material behind the baby’s head from creasing and creating those annoying shadows.
- Expect it to take time – your baby doesn’t understand what is going on so take a break if baby is getting fed up. Where possible be as prepared as possible before involving baby.
- Feed your baby 30 minutes before the shoot – this will mean he/she isn’t hungry which could cause distress. It will also give your baby time to settle their tummy so you don’t get spit up all over your photography area.
With some patience and cooing you should have a few photos that you can use. Onto the next problem…printing them at the right size
Printing Passport Photos
There are many online programs which will create an image which you can send for print using your photos. I googled “passport photo online” and there are some online programs. I tried a couple as some of them want you to download a toolbar or subscribe to something before you can get your “free” photo. I used this service in the end – passport photo maker.
The program allows you to download correctly sized photos and then all you need to do is send it to a print shop. This can be done online or you can go into a shop with your memory stick.
Signed and Sent Off
As its baby’s first passport it will need authenticating. Luckily I have a bunch of teacher friends and one of them gladly authenticated the photo. I’d happily do this for any of my friends.
Post and wait. As I did Olivia’s photo, I was nervous that it would be rejected and I would have to go through the whole process again. Fortunately the photo was accepted and Olivia’s passport was mailed to us within a couple of weeks.
Getting Ready to Fly
Even though we don;t fly for a couple of months Ryanair allow you to check in early so I have. It was nervous as I didn’t pay the extra to guarantee our seats together. I entered our passport details and then waited. When the seats came back we were actually all seated together anyway. Three seats in a row with George in the middle and Olivia on my lap. Just perfect! I’ll be doing this every time and if we ever don’t get seats that we want then I’ll just pay the extra afterwards. The money saved has just paid for an attraction admission on holiday! We also only have one checked bag paid for as the rest is going in our cabin allowance. When we went last time they needed to check our cabin bags as there wasn’t enough space but we didn’t get charged.
Check out my previous blog post on tips for flying with children
Now all we need to do is pack our bags (or Trunki for George) and get going.