British Connections – Simplified UK Passport and Visa Processing
If you are a British passport holder, did you know that the British government has repatriated all overseas passport teams back to the UK, so the days of processing all the documentation at the local consulate are over?
The consulate also no longer provides any passport checking services so if you want to apply, you need to go it alone, hope you tick all the right boxes and submit the documentation directly to the processing team in Liverpool. For many British passport holders in Hong Kong the unfortunate result has been delayed applications leading to missed holidays and high stress levels.
Former Her Majesty’s Passport Officer, Colin Bloomfield, has been dealing with passport applications for six years, in Washington DC and more recently in Hong Kong. The repatriation of the service resulted in the loss of his job, but he’s now offering his skills and knowledge to ensure that a renewal or first application is processed without delays or hassle with his company British Connections.
We spoke to Colin recently and he outlined how his services can reduce the stress around renewing your passport.
How can your service help British passport holders in HK?
The system that the UK has introduced to apply for passports is quite complicated. I am finding a lot of people are struggling with the online form and knowing which documents to submit.
People who I see are telling me they are looking for someone who knows the procedure and processes to take the uncertainty and worry out of getting it wrong. I can help fill in the form, ensure all the right documents are then sent in with the application meaning that there are no unnecessary delays in the processing.
Could you outline how the process works – what people can expect from their first contact with you?
For us the customer comes first. We respond to all enquiries extremely fast and identify the needs of the individual so that we can ensure we provide the necessary service.
For the more complicated first time applications clients make an appointment and come into our office to complete the online form, we then go through in detail the documentation that we will need to send with the application, along with explaining the specification of the photos required and about counter-signatories.
For renewals we take the time to offer guidance on what documentation is needed and sit with the client whilst they fill in the online form. For all types of applications there are always concerns about sending passports when they have to travel and issues about where the new passports can be sent to. All these issues are easily dealt with so the client can relax with the reassurance that there application is in good hands
What do you charge for your services?
Our fees vary depending on the application, we charge $500 for a renewal and $800 for a first time which includes 5-7 working day courier costs to the UK. The only other fee payable is the Passport fee which is made online with a credit card when we complete the form. These fees are fixed regardless of how long we need to take to resolve the application.
What is the processing time from submission of application to receipt of passport?
Well that’s an interesting question! If everything is running normally in Liverpool and they are up to date then I have had applications back in 2 weeks.
At the moment the backlog is such that it is taking between 7-9 weeks. Unfortunately British Connections has no control over the length of time the UK takes to process the application, all we can do is make sure the application is properly submitted and therefore doesn’t get delayed unnecessarily.
Why should somebody use your service rather than do it themselves?
Obviously the system allows anyone to do it themselves. Our strength is helping people to avoid problems because if the application is not correct or you have failed to include the right documents then the application will be pended while the examiner contacts you for the extra documents to be sent to the UK. This could add an extra 2-3 weeks onto the processing time at least.
The issue at present is that the UK are pending around 50-60% of application received due to errors or mistakes, so by using someone who knows the procedure and processes you know when it is sent it is sent correctly first time.
The added benefit to using our services is that if something should happen and you need to travel or you have another issue, we are able to guide you in the right direction to solve your problem. Our service does not just stop when the application has been submitted.
What additional services do you offer?
We have now added to our services a UK Visa department, assisting overseas passport holders in putting together a properly documented UK visa application. Our Visa specialist was working in the British Consulate for the last 12 years in the Visa department. So like me with the passports he knows everything about the different UK Visas and the process in applying.
We also now offer advice on citizenship and naturalisation run by another of our experts and all of our services are available in both English and Cantonese.
All of our expert staff have had direct experience of UK government processes and I genuinely feel that British Connections, with the experience our staff have, offers a service and expertise level that no other company in Hong Kong can come close to offering.