There are more than 110 000 Zimbabweans living in the UK according to a 2013 report from the Office of National Statistics, and many will need to renew their Zimbabwean passports. Although Zimbabwe passports are issued in Zimbabwe, you can do the paperwork from the UK at the Zimbabwean Embassy in London. You will need a family member or agent to act as your representative to submit your documents for you in Zimbabwe.
If you’re renewing your Zimbabwe passport from the UK, here’s a step-by-step guide to do it yourself without hiring an agency. Frustratingly, it’s best to start the application process at least 18 months before the passport expires. This is because you usually need a passport to have six months’ validity in order to travel, and passports seem to be taking a long time to process in Zimbabwe.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a consular official or advisor, and I cannot take any responsibility for actions taken based on the information in the guide below. This article is a useful addition to your own research, and it is based on real-life experience. This article does not replace official Embassy or Registrar advice.
Official Embassy and Registrar contact details: Please check the information from the official websites as a priority; see below.
- In London: The official website for the Embassy of Zimbabwe to Britain and Ireland is: www.zimlondon.gov.zw (although it is not always running). Their email addresses are: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. The physical address is: 429 The Strand, London WC2R 0JR, and the UK phone number is +44 207 836 7755. Their normal opening hours for the public are 09h00 to 12h30 Monday to Friday.
- In Zimbabwe: The Zimbabwe Department of the Registrar General website is here: http://www.rg.gov.zw. The physical address is: Central Registry Headquarters, Cnr Herbert Chitepo and Leopold Takawira Street, Harare. The phone number of the Registrar General office in Harare is +263 242 702295 or +263 4 790708.
- There is a page on the Zimbabwe Registrar General website for Zimbabweans living abroad, here: http://www.rg.gov.zw/index.php/services/zimbabweans-living-abroad. This page states that passport processing time is six months, although faster options are available.
A guide to renewing your Zimbabwe passport from the UK
Step 1: Gather the correct documentation in advance
Check the official websites (above) for the latest requirements. Make a photocopy of each of these certificates/documents, to take to the Embassy with the originals. The copies do not need to be certified because the Embassy official will check they are valid along with the originals.
To take to the Embassy in London, with photocopies of each:
- Long birth certificate
- Original ID
- Old passport and photocopy of the biodata page plus the page showing your right to live in the UK
- Marriage Certificate/National Identity Card in married name/divorce order if applicable
- Citizenship certificate (for citizen by registration)
- £65 payable via cash or postal order at the London Embassy
- Study permit permanent residence permit or waiver/ Temporary permit/work permit
- For lost or stolen passports: the police report. Note: a loss of a passport should be immediately reported to the nearest local police and nearest Zimbabwean Embassy
- Children: Section 5 of the passport application form must be signed by the father or other legal guardian of children under 18 years. Legal guardian’s “Documentary Proof” should be in a form of a court order from the High Court or Community in the case of divorced parents
- Photos: Note that you need 2 photographs – but due to the strict requirements, it is best to get the photographs taken by a particular photo shop which is near the London Embassy on the day (see Step 2)
The following will be needed after your visit to the Embassy in London. These will be sent to your representative in Zimbabwe, along with the above documents:
- P34 form and Passport form, completed and stamped (these will be given to you to complete and stamp at the London Embassy)
- Two affidavits for your local representative (detailed in Step 5)
- A local representative: You will need to liaise with someone in Zimbabwe to hand in the application on your behalf later, if you are not going to Zimbabwe yourself
- If you are sending the documents to your representative in Zimbabwe via courier, there will be a courier fee, varying in price depending on which company you choose. Your representative may then need to courier the documents/new passport back to you, depending on your situation.
- The application fee in Zimbabwe of US$60
Step 2: Get your passport photos (near the Zim Embassy in London)
The requirements for Zimbabwean passport photos are very strict – you must wear only black clothing, the background must be pure white, no jewellery must be worn, and ears must be completely visible.
You could try and ensure all these things are correct yourself, but if there’s something wrong, it’s likely that the embassy will ask you to get the photos re-taken at a particular photo shop near the embassy. It’s probably easier just to go to the photo shop in the first instance.
The photo shop is extremely close to the Zimbabwean embassy and it is called The ID Photo Shop. You can get the photos done on the day of going to the Embassy, because the photos are printed instantly. The photo shop website is here and they are experienced in taking photos for Zimbabwean requirements. Check their website for current opening hours. They are located beneath ground level, down the stairs next to the Paperchase shop on The Strand. The photos cost under £10. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Step 3: Go to the Zimbabwean Embassy with your documents
You’ll need to go to the Zimbabwean Embassy in London, with your originals, photocopies, money and photos. Also take a black pen and some coins for the photocopier machine at the Embassy just in case.
Zimbabwe House is located at 429 The Strand, WC2R 0JR. It is a great central location, very easy walking distance from Charing Cross Station or Embankment Station. (Have a walk around Trafalgar Square and Victoria Embankment Gardens afterwards!)
Check the Embassy of Zimbabwe to Britain and Ireland website for opening times (see top of page). Their usual opening hours are 09h00 to 12h30 Monday to Friday.
The entrance is to the left of the main door – walk around the building for a few steps to the left side door. It will probably look closed, but if you push it, it will open! The office isn’t usually too busy and there shouldn’t be a long queue.
Step 4: Process your documents with the Embassy
As far as I’m aware, you do not need to book an appointment before going to the embassy – but try to phone them or email them to confirm this first, if you are making a long journey. Show your originals and photocopies to the official at the Embassy. They may ask you to photocopy something that may have been overlooked – there is a coin-operated photocopier in the Embassy for you to do this.
You will be given a P34 form and a Passport form at the Embassy to complete in black pen. You will be asked to complete personal details such as height, eye colour and hair colour.
Once they are happy with those completed forms, you pay the £65 fee and they will officially stamp your forms. You will also have your fingerprints taken at the Embassy.
You then leave the Embassy with all of your originals and photocopies, plus the completed P34 form and Passport form which have been stamped by the official.
Step 5: Sign two affidavits for your local representative
In order for your representative to submit your passport application at the Zimbabwe passport office, and for them to collect the new passport, you need to write a letter authorising them to do these things.
You need two letters – one to authorise submission of the passport forms, and one to authorise collection of the passport forms.
I’ve created a template affidavit for you at the bottom of this page. Copy & paste the text at the bottom of this page into your own Word document, format it as you wish, print two copies, and complete the blank parts of the form in pen so that there is one signed letter for submission and one for collection. Fill out the name and ID details of your representative in Zimbabwe.
Step 6: Send your documents to Zimbabwe for submission
Send all the originals, photocopies, photos, forms and affidavits to your representative in Zimbabwe. You can courier the documents via FedEx, DHL or a method of your choosing. Do not courier to a P.O. Box in Zimbabwe, but to a physical address.
Step 7: Your representative submits the documents in Zimbabwe
Your representative takes the documentation to the passport office in Zimbabwe and uses the submission affidavit to submit your forms. There is a different queue for applications from abroad, which will hopefully be shorter than the local queue. Your representative will need to pay a fee of US$60 for the new passport to be issued (more expensive options are available for faster turnaround). Your representative needs to keep the affidavit that authorises them to collect the passport. A receipt will be given to the representative.
Step 8: Your representative collects the new passport
If you’ve opted for the standard turnaround time, then your representative will collect the new passport from the passport office in Zimbabwe. To collect the passport, they will present the collection affidavit that you had supplied, plus the receipt that was provided when submitting the application.
Standard processing time used to be 6 weeks. Unfortunately the Department of the Registrar General is stating that standard processing time is currently 6 months, although there is a fast option at a higher fee.
Your representative may then need to courier the documents back to you, depending on your situation.
Appendix: Sample text to use in the affidavit (See Step 5 above for instructions)
RE: PASSPORT APPLICATION AFFIDAVIT
To whom it may concern
This is to confirm that I …………………………………………………. (applicant’s name), ID number …………………………. (applicant’s ID),
hereby authorise my representative ……………………………………………. (representative’s name), ID/Passport number …………………………. (representative’s ID),
to SUBMIT / COLLECT [delete as appropriate] my passport and necessary documentation to / from the Registrar General’s Office on my behalf.
Applicant’s full name ………………………………………………………..
I hope this guide is useful for your own research about renewing your Zimbabwe passport. I repeat that I am not an official passport advisor, and readers should send their enquiries to the Embassy or Registrar General. Contact details for them are at the top of this page, or readers can do a Google search for the official contact details.
If you would like to add advice from your own experience, please add it to the comments below.