Husband due to miss anniversary trip after waiting seven weeks for passport

·3-min read
The UK’s Passport Office has seen a surge of post-pandemic applications (Getty Images)
The UK’s Passport Office has seen a surge of post-pandemic applications (Getty Images)

A Welsh man looks set to miss his long-awaited 35th wedding anniversary trip to Turkey after his passport failed to come back in time.

Mark Davies, from Swansea, booked the celebration trip to Turkey for next Monday with wife Gillian - but before setting off, both had to renew their passports.

The couple sent off their standard passport applications in March. While Mrs Davies’s travel document arrived within four weeks, Mr Davies is still awaiting his more than seven weeks later, with a strong chance he will miss out on Monday’s holiday.

Mrs Davies told WalesOnline: “It has been so stressful. We both sent off applications on 24 March. Mine came back quite quickly, but Mark’s has never appeared.

“When I phoned I was told that the applications had been sent to different offices. Then I was told that his was being processed, but when I phoned back again was told it was still being examined.

“I seemed to get a different answer every time I called.”

The couple became so frustrated that on Wednesday they went down to the Newport Passport Office to try to chase up the application in person.

While staff at the local passport office said everything would be done to help them retrieve the travel document in time, it still has not appeared.

“It has been very stressful. We are going with all our family to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary,” says Mrs Davies.

“I was so worried that we went to Newport to speak to someone in person, and they were very helpful.”

The UK’s Passport Office usually processes new adult passports within around five weeks - but in April, the Home Office advised that holidaymakers should leave 10 weeks amid a surge in applications.

Home Office minister Kevin Foster said at the time that a million passport applications were being received in just one month. “To put that into context, we usually deal with seven million in a whole year,” he told MPs.

Mark and Gillian Davies have enlisted the help of their own MP, Carolyn Harris, who has set up a “passport surgery” to cope with the number of constituent enquiries about passport waiting times.

Ms Harris, the MP for Swansea East, says: “I am disappointed that my constituents are facing the stress and worry of delayed passport applications especially with the holiday season almost upon us. The government needs to get its act together and properly staff the HM Passport office to allow a seamless and fast application process.

“The last few years have been difficult for everyone, and my constituents should not be prevented from taking a break abroad, or missing out on weddings or funerals, or job opportunities because of the government’s ineptitude.”

On Thursday junior Home Office minister Tom Pursglove faced a slew of MP questions about the delays to passport applications.

Mr Pursglove also revealed that one in every 70 passport applications has currently been in the system for longer than the 10-week target for processing. That represents some 14,000 out of around one million applications each month.

Of the recent passport delays, a HM Passport Office spokesperson told The Independent: “Since April 2021, we’ve clearly stated that people should allow up to 10 weeks when applying for their passport to factor in the increased demand, which has seen five people million people delay their passport application due to the pandemic.

“The overwhelming majority of applications are completed within 10 weeks, with the latest figures showing 9 per cent were completed within 6 weeks. But we cannot compromise security checks and people should apply with plenty of time prior to travelling.”

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