A FAMILY are devastated after a post-Brexit passport issue left them unable to travel.
Sheree Telford was due to fly with her husband Dean and son Charlie from Gatwick to Malaga on Friday last week.
She last renewed her passport in March 2012 for ten years and nine months, as time remaining on her existing document was transferred to the new one.
However, since leaving the European Union, UK passports must be issued less than ten years before the date of travel to an EU country.
And any time left remaining on a passport that is being renewed is no longer transferred to the new document.
Sheree, 42, of Lincoln Avenue, Peacehaven, believed her passport to be valid for travel to Malaga until December 2022. She says she was advised by two separate workers at the Passport Office on May 5 that this was the case.
She saw contradicting information on Facebook and phoned the Passport Office again on May 6 to be sure and that was when it was confirmed to her that her passport was no longer valid, having expired in March.
“I’ve never been so stressed in my life. I felt like I was having a panic attack, my eyes were going funny, I was dizzy,” said Sheree.
“I was stressing on the phone all the time, chasing emails. I didn’t want to turn up at the airport with my little boy and have them say I can’t get on the plane.”
Sheree sent off a digital passport renewal application from a post office on May 9, the earliest opportunity she could, and received an almost instant text from the Passport Office to say it had received her application.
She was also advised her old document, which you have to submit when renewing, would be received the next day.
She said that on May 11 her case was upgraded and she was told the new passport would arrive in time for the holiday.
Sheree said that after eight days of silence, the Passport Office contacted her to notify her they had not received her old passport and had lost her application.
“They left it almost ten days to tell me that they couldn’t find my passport, so we weren’t able to travel,” said Sheree.
“I had to have an ambulance out on Thursday because the stress has flared up my endometriosis, I’m still in pain. I’m still bleeding because of the stress that it’s caused me.”
On Friday, the day they were due to travel, Sheree had still not received her passport, instead getting a text from the Passport Office to say it had located her old passport.
By yesterday she had still not received her passport.
She is unable to get a refund from EasyJet for the cost of her flights. Its terms and conditions make clear that no refund will be given should a person “cancel, miss or not take” a flight, unless the ticket is cancelled within 24 hours of purchase or due to serious illness or bereavement.
A Passport Office spokesman said: “Our staff are working tirelessly to deal with record demand, processing approximately 250,000 passport applications each week meaning that the overwhelming majority of passport applications continue to be completed well within the ten-week guidance.
“The introduction of our latest application processing system, Digital Application Processing, has enabled passport applications to be processed more quickly, with fewer manual interventions. But we cannot compromise on security checks and people should apply with plenty of time prior to travelling.”
EasyJet has been contacted for comment.