A countersignatory for a passport application must be a professional person, or a person of standing in the community, who holds a current British or Irish passport. There is no exhaustive list of approved countersignatories; the passport application form and the Identity and Passport Service website give examples of the types of occupations which would be considered acceptable but there is no intention to preclude other people who meet the criteria.
[holding answer 18 May 2007]: Passports are issued at the discretion of the Secretary of State under the Royal prerogative. In practice, passports are issued when the Secretary of State is satisfied as to the identity and British nationality of applicants, in accordance with legislation, except in certain well defined categories, of which Parliament has been informed from time to time. These are:
(i) a minor whose journey was known to be contrary to a court order, to the wishes of a parent or other person or authority in whose favour a residence or care order had been made or who had been awarded custody; or care and control, or to the provisions of section 25(1) of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 as amended by section 42 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1963, or section 56 of the Adoption Act 1976, as amended by the Children Act 1989;
(ii) a person for whose arrest a warrant had been issued in the United Kingdom, or a person who was wanted by the United Kingdom police on suspicion of a serious crime;
(iii) in very rare cases, a person whose past or proposed activities were so demonstrably undesirable that the grant or continued enjoyment of passport facilities would be contrary to the public interest;
(iv) a person repatriated from abroad at public expense until the debt has been repaid.
In addition, passports would not be issued to those who were currently the subject of Football Banning Orders or Travel Restriction Orders.
The statistics available show only the breakdown between those applications which failed on nationality grounds and those rejected for other reasons. In the 2006 calendar year 0.38 per cent. of the 2,846,324 applications received through the Check and Send service were rejected. The numbers in each category were:
Number Nationality grounds 2,634 Other reasons 8,266