To think counter-signing a passport for a stranger is both illegal and idiotic?

(60 Posts)
user1478265589 Tue 22-Nov-16 11:43:54

Someone's posted on a local FB selling group asking for someone to sign his passport application, and loads of people have offered to do it (who don't seem to know him).

I know you're supposed to have known the applicant for two years, but what sanctions are there for lying in this manner?

toastytoastbear Tue 22-Nov-16 11:46:23

Dunno, not really your business is it?

DuchessofAnkh Tue 22-Nov-16 11:48:22

yes you are right - it would be 100% idiotic to sign in those circumstances! The signers do get contacted by the passport office sometimes so they could be caught out. You have to know someone for 3 years to sign.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Tue 22-Nov-16 11:48:49

The whole countersigning thing is absolutely farcial in the first place, TBH I have no problem with this as I remember how hard it was to find someone who matchedntheir criteria.

Potatoooooo Tue 22-Nov-16 11:48:54

It's meant to be a fine and potential ruined reputation for the person who signed it.
So they're accepting that risk if they're willing to sign.

user1478265589 Tue 22-Nov-16 11:49:21

Well, it's not great for national security, is it? And there's loads of reasons people might fancy a new identity - on the run from police for murder, rape etc

Potatoooooo Tue 22-Nov-16 11:49:33

It's 2 years not 3.

VixenLupin Tue 22-Nov-16 11:50:12

I had to go do an interview for my first passport this year, and they were very thorough in asking questions about how I knew the person who countersigned my passport as well as asking general questions I guess to see if the answers flowed naturally (like how long was my school run, how far away the nearest shops were and what route I took)

I can't remember if they got in touch with my countersignatory but I suppose you'd have to have your stories straight on how you knew each other or it could all go tits up.

No idea what the punishment is for lying.

DuchessofAnkh Tue 22-Nov-16 11:50:27

I should just add people who are legally allowed to sign would know all this,

Your countersignatory must:

have known the person applying (or the adult who signed the form if the passport is for a child under 16) for at least 2 years
be able to identify the person applying, eg they’re a friend, neighbour or colleague (not just someone who knows them professionally)
be ‘a person of good standing in their community’ or work in (or be retired from) a recognised profession

Examples of recognised professions include:

accountant
airline pilot
articled clerk of a limited company
assurance agent of recognised company
bank/building society official
barrister
chairman/director of limited company
chiropodist
commissioner for oaths
councillor, eg local or county
civil servant (permanent)
dentist
director/manager/personnel officer of a VAT-registered company
engineer - with professional qualifications
financial services intermediary, eg a stockbroker or insurance broker
fire service official
funeral director
insurance agent (full time) of a recognised company
journalist
Justice of the Peace
legal secretary - fellow or associate member of the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs
licensee of public house
local government officer
manager/personnel officer of a limited company
member, associate or fellow of a professional body
Member of Parliament
Merchant Navy officer
minister of a recognised religion - including Christian Science
nurse - RGN or RMN
officer of the armed services
optician
paralegal - certified paralegal, qualified paralegal or associate member of the Institute of Paralegals
person with honours, eg an OBE or MBE
pharmacist
photographer - professional
police officer
Post Office official
president/secretary of a recognised organisation
Salvation Army officer
social worker
solicitor
surveyor
teacher, lecturer
trade union officer
travel agent - qualified
valuer or auctioneer - fellows and associate members of the incorporated society
Warrant Officers and Chief Petty Officers

Potatoooooo Tue 22-Nov-16 11:50:46

Well they would need to provide all sorts of evidence, so it wouldn't just come down to the person that signed it (although they will get caught if the office find the applicant has lied)

ShanghaiDiva Tue 22-Nov-16 11:51:06

I think the passport office carries out random checks so it would seem foolish to do this.

MrsHathaway Tue 22-Nov-16 11:54:17

People who can countersign passports have something to lose: typically it's their job!

Example: solicitor pretends she's known someone and countersigns; they turn out to be an identity thief; solicitor is done for making false statements; her contract states any conviction is grounds for dismissal; sacked.

In some professions you'd also be struck off the professional register so you'd never work again in that field.

I think it's fucking stupid but I agree with pp that it's not your business.

The process of countersigning passports is potentially discriminatory, mind you, as there are lots of disadvantaged people who simply don't have anyone who could countersign for them (because they and their friends work in shops and call centres rather than law firms/hospitals).

PhilODox Tue 22-Nov-16 11:59:03

They're probably directors of Ltd companies, lots of people are.

Scrowy Tue 22-Nov-16 12:00:09

They do ring and check so extremely silly. My DM signed one for a friend's son. We know the family well but they have 5 boys very close in age/ appearance so when the passport office rang DM couldnt remember exactly which one was the one she had signed for.

Fortunately it was clear that was the situation and it was all fine but poor DM was a bit blush about it all.

Sunnymeg Tue 22-Nov-16 12:01:08

A friend of mine who is a teacher signed for her neighbours, who had just discovered their passports had expired when they were due to go on holiday. My friend had known them for the required length of time. However the neighbours made numerous mistakes on their passport application, probably because they were panicking about their situation and completed it in a hurry. The passport office investigated the discrepancies and reprimanded my friend for signing the form without reading it through properly. The neighbours didn't get to go on holiday either. So getting someone off Facebook to sign your form isn't a great idea.

user1478265589 Tue 22-Nov-16 12:03:05

I've signed for loads of people and I can see the rationale for bending the truth (eg signing for someone you've only known for one year, or signing for a long-term friend of someone you know and trust) but a complete stranger...?

There doesn't seem to be anything online about sanctions though, so maybe it'd only work out badly for someone with criminal activity in their job contract as MrsHathaway says

Manumission Tue 22-Nov-16 12:15:34

It's an out-dated system.

pepperpot99 Tue 22-Nov-16 12:17:47

I have countersigned many passports through my line of work but I am fussy about who I sign for; I have turned plenty of people down.

EleanorRigby123 Tue 22-Nov-16 12:18:43

Why not forward a copy of the fb page to the passport office? By doing so you will be helping to prevent a potential passport fraud.

NeedsAsockamnesty Tue 22-Nov-16 12:20:48

The process of countersigning passports is potentially discriminatory, mind you, as there are lots of disadvantaged people who simply don't have anyone who could countersign for them (because they and their friends work in shops and call centres rather than law firms/hospitals)

A pub landlord can sing the form as can a local shopkeeper or buisness owner.

The manager of my local newsagent signed mine got a check after and recieved a letter from the passport agency conforming it was acceptable.
Under the standing in the comunity criteria.

DrQuinzel Tue 22-Nov-16 12:25:22

It's a ridiculous process to begin with, in this day & age they surely could come up with something a bit more secure.

I get asked all the time and have no issue doing it, however have been contacted at work more often than not to confirm I know this person. There's no way I'd risk my registration doing it for a stranger.

Manumission Tue 22-Nov-16 12:27:29

It's a ridiculous process to begin with, in this day & age they surely could come up with something a bit more secure.

They do for adults who have never previously had a passport;

www.gov.uk/apply-first-adult-passport/your-passport-interview

MrsHathaway Tue 22-Nov-16 12:34:21

That's great, Needs - if you've lived there for at least two years. And although we are friendly with our shopkeeper I doubt he'd be confident of our surname, let alone address.

But you're right, it's far broader than it used to be, thank goodness.

PollyHampton Tue 22-Nov-16 12:38:52

I once signed for a woman I worked with. She originally asked if I could do both her and her sons which I agreed to but when we met up for me to do it she only had her form so I just did hers.

About a week later I had a 'phone call from the Passport Office asking to confirm details but it was all about her son as well. Long story short she had filled in my details and forged my signature on her sons form as she was in a rush and thought I wouldn't mind. It was awful.

Prawnofthepatriarchy Tue 22-Nov-16 12:39:45

I agree with Eleanor. Forward a screenshot of the FB page to the Passport Office. Lying about passport applications is illegal and potentially lethal. Some people have zero common sense.

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