11. Want to know where you stand?

adjust your stool

Are you someone of ‘good standing’, according to the UK government? Have a look at this list of acceptable occupations and see if you are able to countersign a friend’s passport application. Authors/editors: don’t even think about it…


Countersignatories must work in (or be retired from) a recognised profession or be ‘a person of good standing in their community’, eg:

  • accountant
  • airline pilot
  • articled clerk of a limited company
  • assurance agent of recognised company
  • bank/building society official
  • barrister
  • chairman/director of limited company
  • chiropodist
  • commissioner of oaths
  • councillor (local or county)
  • civil servant (permanent), but not someone who works for Her Majesty’s Passport Office
  • dentist
  • director/manager of a VAT-registered charity
  • director/manager/personnel officer of a VAT-registered company
  • engineer (with professional qualifications)
  • financial services intermediary (eg a stockbroker or insurance broker)
  • fire service official
  • funeral director
  • insurance agent (full time) of a recognised company
  • journalist
  • Justice of the Peace
  • legal secretary (fellow or associate member of the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs)
  • licensee of public house
  • local government officer
  • manager/personnel officer (of a limited company)
  • member, associate or fellow of a professional body
  • Member of Parliament
  • Merchant Navy officer
  • minister of a recognised religion (including Christian Science)
  • nurse (RGN and RMN)
  • officer of the armed services
  • optician
  • paralegal (certified paralegal, qualified paralegal or associate member of the Institute of Paralegals)
  • person with honours (an OBE or MBE, for example)
  • pharmacist
  • photographer (professional)
  • police officer
  • Post Office official
  • president/secretary of a recognised organisation
  • Salvation Army officer
  • social worker
  • solicitor
  • surveyor
  • teacher, lecturer
  • trade union officer
  • travel agent (qualified)
  • valuer or auctioneer (fellows and associate members of the incorporated society)
  • Warrant Officers and Chief Petty Officers

Why pilots and not divers? Good old-fashioned snobbery I suspect, which is a shame when you hear tales of heroic human decency taking place under water. I urge you to listen to the story of Italian police diver Antonio D’Amico who endured a harrowing time removing the bodies of migrants who drowned off the island of Lampedusa in October. His evident compassion and consummate professionalism is a moving combination. Find the radio programme he’s featured on here.

It’s worth remembering that while it’s nice to be important, plenty of worthy individuals exist outside the vouchsafing framework suggested by our betters. Who would you choose to trust, a paramedic or an MP? An editor or a…okay, fair point. What’s that? You still want to apply for that job as commissioner of oaths? Well, good luck – just don’t expect my written reference to mean too much.


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