For a UK application, calling the passport office has not helped. Can I use a software engineer/developer or programmer for this? What is the situation regarding required qualifications as so many are self taught?

  • 4
    To the "unclear what you're asking" close voter: some UK passport applications require a signature from someone who "either work[s] in (or be retired from) a recognised profession [or is] ‘a person of good standing in their community’". One of the "recognised professions" is "engineer - with professional qualifications". However, this is off-topic for The Workplace as it's asking for legal advice, so I've voted to close. Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 11:41
  • Flagged and recommend migrating this to Travel SE, as this is about a passport application.
    – David K
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 12:50
  • There is an on-line form for asking this from the horses mouth - gov.uk/passport-advice-line
    – Ed Heal
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 13:03
  • Better yet expatriates instead of travel; I suppose this is not about travelling but working in a foreign country.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 16:24

2 Answers 2


I would suggest not. The mention of an engineer is a Chartered engineer. In many industries you need to have passed exams with an accreditation body (e.g. civil engineering etc) before you can call yourself an engineer. This then attests to the person's good character as a countersign for a passport, as they have (like teachers, judges, police etc) something to lose by being caught signing falsely.

see here on wikipedia:

A Chartered professional is a person who has gained a remarkable level of competence in a particular field of work and as such has been awarded a formal credential by an organization in recognition. It is considered a status of professional competency, and the Chartered status is awarded mainly by professional bodies viz. Bar Council etc. and learned societies. Common in Britain and in the Commonwealth it has been adapted by organizations around the world

In software, just about every programmer calls themselves an engineer, it doesn't have the same meaning and won't be accepted.

  • In Canada, before the recent switch to "anyone with a passport" a Professional Engineer could sign - this requires a 4 year degree and exams on law and ethics. Just having engineer in your job title was not enough, and I expect the same to hold in the UK., Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 13:02

Yes, in certain circumstances. The UK government publishes a list of qualifying countersignatories, and among those are

  • engineer - with professional qualifications
  • member, associate or fellow of a professional body

So someone (like me) who has the letters MBCS after his name is qualified. However, a software engineer isn't qualified simply by being in the computer industry: he has to be officially recognised -- which is where professional qualifications like MCP or membership of a professional body comes in. The latter usually awards official post-nominal letters, and many use something like "MCP" similarly.

MBCS is Member of the British Computer Society, the Chartered Institution for IT professionals. MCP is Microsoft Certified Professional, and is a proprietary (but industry-recognised) qualification. The Passport Office are OK with MBCS; I don't know of any MCPs who have countersigned applications.

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