Passport renewal warning after strikes set to cause significant delays

Passport Office workers are striking between April 3 and May 5  (PA Archive)
Passport Office workers are striking between April 3 and May 5 (PA Archive)

Families wanting to travel abroad this summer are being urged to renew their passports now to avoid possible delays as a result of five weeks of strike action at the Passport Office.

On Friday the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union announced athe walkout by its members in the Passport Office in an escalation of its long-running dispute with the Government over pay, pensions, jobs and conditions.

More than 1,000 union workers in England, Scotland and Wales will walk off the job between April 3 and May 5.

Travel expert Rob Staines told the MailOnline that jet setters shouldn’t put off renewing their passport because there is a “real chance” summer holiday plans could be ruined otherwise.

“It’s hard to imagine there won’t be any knock-on effect. This is a quarter of the work force that is going out,” he said.

“If you have got a summer holiday booked and you’re getting close to the wire of that passport expiring, absolutely get that application in as soon as you possible can.”

Passport renewals are currently taking up to 10 weeks to complete and the Home Office has already urged customers to “apply in good time and not at the last minute”.

The 10-week deadline introduced during the pandemic is remaining in place due to an “elevated” and “volatile” demand for travel documents, the Home Office said last month.

The Passport Office has been struggling to keep up with demand as Britons throw themselves back into holidaying abroad following the Covid lockdowns of 2020.

With thousands failing to check their passports due to the lack of ability to travel abroad, many realised their documents had expired between 2020 and 2021.

Five million passports went out of date over that two-year period, which would explain why a sudden influx of a million renewal applications in March last year, alone, could have placed immense pressure on the Passport Office.

Holidaymakers are also being reminded of a passport renewal price hike that came into effect last month.

The fee for a standard online application made from within the UK will rise from £75.50 to £82.50 for adults and £49 to £53.50 for children.

Postal applications will increase from £85 to £93 for adults and £58.50 to £64 for children.

The PCS union is expecting the walkouts to have a “significant impact” on the delivery of passports across April and May.

General secretary Mark Serwotka said: “This escalation of our action has come about because, in sharp contrast with other parts of the public sector, ministers have failed to hold any meaningful talks with us, despite two massive strikes and sustained, targeted action lasting six months.

“Their approach is further evidence they’re treating their own workforce worse than anyone else. They’ve had six months to resolve this dispute but for six months have refused to improve their 2 per cent imposed pay rise, and failed to address our members’ other issues of concern.

“They seem to think if they ignore our members, they’ll go away. But how can our members ignore the cost-of-living crisis when 40,000 civil servants are using foodbanks and 45,000 of them are claiming the benefits they administer themselves?”