Passports and Immunisations

As new parents you will need to know how to apply for your baby or child’s passport and understand what travel vaccinations you may need.

Applying for a child passport

  • All children born after 5 October 1998 need their own passport and can no longer be added to their parents’ passports as before.
  • Children included on their parents’ passports before 1998 can remain on them until they become 16, the passport expires or the parent submits it for amendment.
  • To apply for a child passport, you’ll need to show proof of birth, ie the original birth certificate, and fill in a passport application form.
  • If your child is under 11, leave section eight of the application form blank. For further advice about filling in a child application form, call your regional passport office.
  • You’ll need two passport-sized head and shoulders photos of your baby/child, taken on a white background. In the case of young babies, you are allowed to support the baby’s head so an adult’s hands showing in the photographs is acceptable.
  • There are several ways to apply for a passport, depending on how much time you have – the quickest is in person at one of the seven regional passport offices and the slowest, a postal application. You can also apply at the Post Office, World Choice travel agents or online at www.ukpa.gov.uk, where you’ll find lots more info about passport applications.

Vaccinations for travelling overseas

  • See your GP or a specialist travel clinic (for example, British Airways Travel Clinics), six to eight weeks before you intend to travel, especially if visiting developing countries, as some vaccinations have to be administered in several doses over several weeks. If backpacking or going for a longer period, see your doctor three months in advance.
  • Tell the doctor which jabs your baby or child has already had so they’ll know for what diseases they are already covered – take their Red Book (official health record) along as proof.
  • What vaccinations your child has will depend on her age and the region you are travelling to, plus her general state of health.
  • Your GP or clinic will be able to advise you what jabs, if any, you need to have but the following general rules apply:

a) Diphtheria, polio and tetanus (if you haven’t been previously immunised against them).

b) Poliomyelitis (not needed for North and West Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand).

c) Hepatitis A and typhoid (for areas where sanitation and hygiene standards are low eg India).

d) Anti-malaria tablets (specific drugs will be prescribed depending on where you are going) and precautions against insect bites, plus yellow fever jabs for all countries where these infections exist (yellow fever jabs are compulsory for entry into certain countries). Malaria is a problem throughout the Tropics and can kill. Anti-malaria tablets should be taken from one to two weeks before travelling and must be continued for four weeks after leaving a malaria region. Occasionally, individuals can have a bad reaction to the drugs in which case an
alternative can be prescribed.

e) A range of other jabs may be needed, depending on where you are going eg rabies, MMR, hepatitis B and tuberculosis.

  • Some immunisations are free under the NHS but, for others, there may be a small charge. Doctors can also charge for signing and filling in vaccination certificates (needed for certain destinations).

How to avoid tummy bugs…

Follow these safety tips from the University of London’s Hospital for Tropical Diseases when visiting a developing country:

  • Avoid salads, raw vegetables, shellfish, locally made ice cream and unpasteurised milk and dairy products.
  • Drink bottled water and avoid tap water/ice in drinks.
  • Eat only food that’s freshly prepared and is still hot.
  • Peel all fruit yourself.

… and other holiday health problems

  • Avoid becoming dehydrated by staying in the shade when the sun’s at its hottest (11am-3pm), drinking plenty of bottled water and being sensible about alcohol intake.
  • Carry your own basic first aid kit to include: rehydration sachets, paracetamol (including infant suspension if necessary), sterile dressings, waterproof plasters, antiseptic cream, anti-sting cream and tweezers.
  • Use a high factor suncream at all times and re-apply regularly.
  • Only swim in chlorinated pools and avoid swimming in the sea near populated areas and sewage outlets.
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