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Passport delay warning as workers plan five-week strike

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn
Posted:
Updated:
20/03/2023

More than 1,000 members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union who work in the Passport Office will take part in industrial action from 3 April to 5 May, jeopardising summer holidays.

The strike is part of an ongoing dispute about jobs, pay and conditions.

Those working in Durham, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Newport, Peterborough and Southport will walk out from 3 April to 5 May. Staff in Belfast will strike from 7 April to 5 May.

The PCS said: “The action is a significant escalation of the union’s long-running dispute over pay, pensions, redundancy terms and job security and is likely to have a significant impact on the delivery of passports as the summer approaches.”

The Home Office said it was “disappointed” with the PCS’s decision and said it was working to manage the impact of strike action and put “comprehensive contingency plans”.

About 4,000 people are employed by the Passport Office across the UK, and about one in four of these workers will down tools.

The union said strike action is being targeted to cause mass disruption and involves members working in departments which examine passports.

What should holidaymakers do?

If you need a new passport, you should get your application in as soon as possible.

You can renew your passport online for £82.50 or by post for £93, after fees were hiked last month.

The Home Office said the strike does not affect its guidance which is to allow up to 10 weeks to get a passport. It said preparations are under way to meet demand this summer.

According to crowdsourced website Passportwaitingtime.co.uk, which bases its figures on customer experiences, people are currently waiting an average of 19.58 days for their first adult passport, 13.87 days for a passport renewal and 6.22 days for a one-week fast track passport.

UK passports are valid for 10 years, but some countries have rules about how long you have left on your passport when you enter the country.

If you travel to a Schengen area country (EU countries plus Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino or Vatican City), your passport will need to be valid for at least three months after the day you plan to leave.

If you’ve not already applied to renew your passport, you should consider using the Online Premium Service or One Week Fast Track service to get your passport quicker than the standard 10-week wait time.

However, these services are only for renewals – you can’t get your first passport this way – and you’ll need to go to a Passport Office in Belfast, Birmingham, Durham, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Newport or Peterborough.

The Online Premium Service costs £193.50. You’ll apply, pay and book an appointment online and the earliest you can get an appointment is two days from when you apply. You’ll get your new passport at your appointment.

The One Week Fast Track Service costs £155 for an adult passport and you’ll be sent your new passport within a week of the appointment.