‘Everybody’s getting their passport within four to six weeks’ says Boris Johnson

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Papers please: documentation is confusing many readers (Simon Calder)
Papers please: documentation is confusing many readers (Simon Calder)

The prime minister today caused uproar among would-be holidaymakers and the travel industry by claiming “everybody’s getting their passport within four to six weeks”.

In response to a challenge about a “backlog of 500,000” passports from Sir Keir Starmer during prime minister’s questions, Boris Johnson said: “We’re massively increasing the speed with which the Passport Office delivers.

“To the best of my knowledge, everybody’s getting their passport within four to six weeks.”

HM Passport Office says applicants for renewals and new passports should allow 10 weeks for it to be processed.

Many travellers are reporting getting routine renewals within three weeks or less, but some are facing much longer waits.

Louise Haigh, Labour’s shadow transport spokesperson, tweeted: “Did @BorisJohnson really just claim that ‘everyone is getting their passport back within 4-6 weeks’?

“The Passport Office's own guidance won't allow MPs to even contact them on behalf of our constituents until 10 weeks have passed.”

A government spokesperson later clarified the situation, saying: “The latest figures show that over 90 per cent of applications have been completed within six weeks. But we cannot compromise security checks and people should apply with plenty of time prior to travelling.”

One in 70 passports is currently taking longer than 10 weeks to arrive, according to Home Office figures.

Yesterday The Independent reported on the case of a parent whose child is still awaiting a passport 12 weeks after application, and recently missed out on a family holiday due to the delay.

Home Office minister Kevin Foster said in April that a million passport applications had been received in just one month.

“To put that into context, we usually deal with seven million in a whole year,” he told MPs.

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