In the weeks running up to the summer holiday period you may have had patients come in to enquire about getting passport photographs signed. A person with the status of ‘dental surgeon’ is an obvious choice, alongside GPs, bank officials and teachers.
It is a service that many dental practices will be happy to provide; some even include it in their practice information leaflets so that patients know they are welcome to ask. Many will offer this free of charge, but some request a small fee of around £30-£40.
The HM Passport Office states that in order to provide a countersignature, the countersignatory must have known the applicant for at least two years and must be of professional status. The Passport Office will check the details of the countersignatory, for example their identity and their professional qualifications, in order to verify that they are genuine.
The supporting documents included in passport application forms (which can also be found on the Passport Office website) specify that countersignatories must “work in (or be retired from) a recognised profession or be ‘a person of good standing in their community’”(www.gov.uk/countersigning-passport-applications).
On the 30th July 2008 it became a legal requirement that all dental nurses must be registered with the General Dental Council. This ensured that our professional status was widely recognised. As the Passport Office clearly stipulates that to sign a passport you must be a “member, associate or fellow of a professional body” (www.gov.uk/countersigning-passport-applications), this clearly allows us to be included in the list of eligible persons!
The countersigning of passports is something that you may have heard patients ask a dentist to do, but it is something that you can confidently offer patients; just ensure that you include your GDC number and check that they have been visiting the practice for at least two years. After all, we are registered professionals!
Written by A Shipman BA, RDN