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Travelers face 10-week wait for new passport

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

An influx of post-pandemic passport applications could mean Brits waiting three times as long as normal for a new passport.

The Home Office has warned that processing passport applications could take up to 10 weeks and says Brits shouldn’t wait until the last minute to do their application.

While lockdown restrictions mean it is still illegal to holiday overseas, applying for a passport now will mean you are ready to travel when restrictions are lifted.

The Passport Office saw a significant drop in the number of people applying for passports during lockdown. In a normal year it processes about 7 million passport applications – but 2020 saw just over 4 million people apply for their passport.

The Home Office says that while applications will be processed as quickly as possible, people should allow up to 10 weeks to receive their passport.

Abi Tierney, director general of Her Majesty’s Passport Office, said: “It is vital those who may need to apply for a new passport do so now. If you have delayed renewing your passport or are applying for the first time, please apply now so you can receive it in good time.

“Our dedicated staff work tirelessly to ensure that passport applications are processed as quickly as possible.

“This new advice will help to ensure that we continue to meet the travel plans of our customers during any period of the very highest passport demand.”

The Passport Office will be sending text messages to people whose passports are nearing expiration to let them know to allow more time when they renew.

As per the roadmap, international travel will not be allowed until 17 May at the earliest. It will be confirmed in advance whether leisure travel can resume on 17 May, or whether we will need to wait longer before lifting the outbound travel restriction.

As the prime minister announced yesterday, when ‘Stay in the UK’ is removed it will be replaced by a risk-based ‘traffic light’ system with red, amber and green ratings – this will help ensure the UK’s vaccine progress isn’t jeopardised and provide clear guidance for travellers.

Applying online is the cheapest and easiest way to obtain your passport.

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: “With the ban on international travel it’s easy to forget about your passport, but it’s vitally important that you check its validity if you are even considering a trip in the next few months.

“The significant drop in the number of people applying for a passport last year means we could see a sudden spike in demand when we can all start travelling again. That and changes due to Brexit could mean you need to apply for a new passport sooner than you think.

“If your passport is not up to date when you are due to travel, you will lose the money for your flight or holiday as your provider will not refund you and insurance will not cover you for the error.”