Passport Office bolsters staff to process nine million applications
HM Passport Office has published an update on passport processing times amid the “unprecedented” levels of demand.
It denied claims that there is a passport processing backlog as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, but urged holidaymakers to apply as soon as possible as it expects to deal with a total of 9.5 million applications this year.
In March alone, it processed over one million new passport applications – the highest level on record.
HMPO is still advising people to allow up to 10 weeks when applying for a British passport, but it said the vast majority of all applications are being dealt with “well within 10 weeks”.
However, it added that a passport can only be issued once all the checks have been completed satisfactorily and could take longer if information is missing or is incomplete.
Further, it urges people not to book travel until they have a valid passport as the new document will not have the same number as the old one.
In preparation for the pent-up demand for international travel, HMPO said it has increased capacity, both in people and systems “across all elements of the production process”.
“The priority is to ensure we can continue to process as many passport applications as possible”, it said.
As such, it is in the process of recruiting another 700 staff members, adding to the 500 already taken on since April 2021.
As of 1 April 2022, there are over 4,000 staff in passport production.
It is also recruiting additional staff for its passport adviceline, which is currently run by Teleperformance.
And it has increased delivery companies to ensure passports and supporting documents are received on time to customers. Lastly, it has also increased availability of fast-track appointments and has extended working hours across the seven HMPO public counters.
It added that new appointments are released daily, three weeks in advance. Customers can call the passport adviceline on 0300 222 0000.
It costs £75.50 for a new first-time or replacement adult passport online, or to change any details on it. If you apply by post, it costs a higher £85.
For a child passport, it costs £49 online or £58.50 using a paper form.
If you need a passport more urgently, the one-week fast track service costs £142 for an adult passport (or £152 for a 50 page frequent traveller passport) and £122 for a child passport (£132 for a 50 page frequent traveller passport).