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Hundreds of thousands of passports in processing backlog

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More than 400,000 people are awaiting a passport after the government confirmed it is working through a backlog due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The latest figures as of 7 July, reveal there are approximately 126,000 passport applications in progress. This is 31% higher than the same period last year.

Baroness Williams of Trafford also revealed there are a further 284,000 applications which will need to be worked through in the coming weeks once HM Passport Office has received and allocated initial documentation.

The minister of state added this is an increase of 172% from last year. In total, there are 410,000 passports in the backlog.

In response to Lord Kennedy of Southwark’s question on passport administrative delays, the Baroness added that due to Covid-19, the Passport Office continues to operate at reduced staffing levels because of social distancing guidelines so it is taking “longer than usual” to process applications.

The written answer also stated: “As part of its contingency arrangements, HM Passport Office is rapidly increasing its capacity for processing passport applications, in line with public health guidance, which will help to ensure it continues to meet the travel needs of its customers.”

According to Passport Waiting Time, a resource group which estimates how long holidaymakers need to wait to get the travel document, it gives the following times (as at 20 July 2020):

  • First adult passport: 40 days
  • Adult passport renewal: 23 days
  • First child passport: 31 days
  • Child passport renewal: 26 days.

The Passport Office website states: “It is taking longer than usual to process applications because of coronavirus (Covid-19). Do not apply unless you’re travelling before September 2020 or you need a passport urgently for compassionate reasons.”

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is still currently advising British nationals against all but essential international travel but there are a number of countries exempted from this advice.

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