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Pandemic passport applications at 20-year low

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Passport applications amid the coronavirus crisis have fallen to new lows, with the number down by nearly half the usual seasonal demand, according to HM Passport Office figures.

Just 2.2 million passport applications were made in the first six months of the year, compared to 4.2 million in the same period in 2019 and 4.4 million in 2018.

The Passport Office states that the demand for passports is seasonal and expects intake to be higher in the months between January and July each year.

While passport applications in January 2020 remained at their typical rate, in fact at a record high of 698,000 since the data was recorded from 2002, the following months were down on trend.

By February this year, passport applications stood at 619,000, down from 711,000 in 2019 and 808,000 in 2018.

And come March when the coronavirus pandemic really hit Europe and the UK imposed nationwide lockdown measures, passport applications fell by more than half from 907,000 in 2019 to just 423,000 this year.

The figures revealed that in April, just a fifth of the usual applications were received by the Passport Office, from 689,000 in 2019 to just 128,000 in 2020.

In May, the figures were down to 132,000 from 650,000 in the previous year, but in June, the numbers picked up slightly to 227,000 – though this is still around half as many as in the previous year (586,000).

Overall, the number of passports issued between 23 March and 1 August stood at 857,000.

Passports issued from mid-March may come in either a ‘Brexit’ blue or burgundy design while those issued from mid-2020 will be blue.

At the height of the summer, it was revealed that more than 400,000 people were awaiting a passport after the government confirmed it was working through a backlog due to the health crisis.

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