New passports will no longer have the holder’s signature in digital format, placing the onus on the traveller to ensure their passport is signed.
In a drive to improve its online application service, HM Passport Office is removing the need for customers to send signed paper forms and photographs in support of their application for a new passport.
As a result, UK citizens will now be required to sign their passport after it has been issued to them. Previously, passports were produced with the holder’s signature already in digital format.
The move to handwritten signatures will bring the UK into line with passports issued by other countries, such as the United States, France, Ireland, New Zealand and Canada.
The change will be introduced on a phased basis from late January onwards. However, valid UK passports with the signature in digital format will continue to be in circulation up until 2027.
As a passport is not valid for travel without a signature, HM Passport Office is urging document holders to sign the personal details page of their new passport using a black ballpoint pen as soon as they receive it.
HM Passport Office has issued leaflets to remind people that it is their responsibility to ensure their passport is correctly signed before use.
Failure to follow this advice will mean passengers could face delays or be denied entry at border crossings or onto flights.
The first e-passport was issued in 2006, with features including a chip with the holder’s facial biometric. Until 2010, the passport showed the personal details on the back page with the chip and antenna visible on the observations page.
The e-passport’s introduction mirrored their use in more than 40 other countries and ensured the UK remained within the US visa waiver scheme.