Passport website goes down amid huge surge in applications

·Breaking News Editor, Yahoo News UK
·3-min read
BRISTOL, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 13: In this photo illustration a European Union issued United Kingdom passport is photographed on March 13, 2022 in Bristol, England. Since the UK's departure from the European Union the list of countries that holders of UK issued passports can travel visa free has declined. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
A surge in demand is seeing a backlog in passport applications. (Getty)

The government website for fast-tracking passport applications has crashed amid huge delays in processing applications.

Thousands of Britons are having to wait up to 10 weeks for their passports following a rise in applications as holidays abroad are back on the cards following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The original wait time for a passport was five weeks, but the government doubled it earlier this year.

The fast track service offers to get a passport back to the applicant in a week, and costs double the normal service – £142 rather than £75.50.

Read more: EU Commission changes passport advice for UK travellers

Anyone trying to book onto the fast track passport service is greated with this message. (Gov)
Anyone trying to book onto the fast track passport service is greeted with this message. (

But people trying to use the service are being greeted with an error message which says: "Sorry, we're experiencing high demand for this service at the moment and the system is busy. Please try again later."

Boris Johnson on Tuesday threatened to "privatise the a***" out of the Passport Office if it doesn't clear the backlog.

Speaking to Talk TV, he refused to rule out privatisation.

He refused to rule out privatisation, saying people deserve a ‘cheaper, faster’ passport service.

"I am not going to rule anything out. I don’t mind whether it is in the public or the private sector," he said.

"What I want is for it to deliver value for money and help people’s costs. If you want to go on holiday with your family it can cost hundreds of pounds to get new passports.

"You deserve to have a cheaper, faster service."

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks at a press conference in Delhi, on the last day of his two day trip to India, Friday, April 22, 2022. (Stefan Rousseau/Pool Photo via AP)
Boris Johnson on Tuesday threatened to 'privatise the a***' out of the Passport Office if it doesn't clear the backlog. (AP)

It comes as some travellers are reporting issues on the border as they tried to leave for their holidays.

The European Commission said on Tuesday it was amending advice, saying UK holidaymakers should not be prevented from boarding some flights if their passport was issued within the previous 10 years at the moment of entry into the Schengen Area.

Since Brexit, British passport holders have been regarded as “non-EU nationals” when entering EU countries in the Schengen Area, which means added stipulations about passport issue and expiry dates.

That means travellers on a British passport must have had it issued within the past 10 years, and be valid for at least three months after the date they intend to leave.

Watch: Deputy PM - Govt doing everything it can on passport delays

The UK government issues new passports with 10 years validity, but will add on the extra months remaining from the previous passport if it is renewed early.

Some EU countries in the Schengen Area have insisted the passports of those within their borders cannot be more than 10 years old from the point of issue.

When the three-month expiry buffer is taken into account, this means a UK passport can't have been issued more than nine years and nine months previously.

However, with the summer holidays fast approaching for millions of Brits, the European Commission has now said a "more generous interpretation of the rules is possible", according to the BBC.

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