Why are new passports and renewals taking so long and what caused Passport Office delays?

·3-min read
Why are new passports and renewals taking so long and what caused Passport Office delays?

Passport delays have been causing havoc for holiday-goers across the UK with many being forced to cancel their upcoming trips or not book any at all.

Now that Covid travel restrictions have been lifted in the majority of countries around the world, airports and airlines are also struggling to cater to the increased demand.

However, many have also complained about the long waits for passport renewals, with some even experiencing a turnaround of several months.

As the delays continue, people are wondering what’s causing the backlog and when things will get better.

Here’s everything you need to know.

Why are new passports and renewals taking so long and what caused Passport Office delays?

There are several reasons for the ongoing Passport Office delays, with the main being the huge surge in demand given so many expired during the pandemic between 2020 and 2021.

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

The Home Office revealed that five million passports went out of date over that two-year period, which would explain why a sudden influx of a million renewal applications in March, alone, could have placed immense pressure on the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

In April 2022, The government website stated: “Her Majesty’s Passport Office (HMPO) anticipate 9.5 million British passport applications will be made this year and in March 2022 alone, HMPO processed more than one million new passport applications, the highest output on record.”

An additional reason for the delay in passport turnaround times is Brexit and the additional red tape it brings.

While the UK was in the EU, Brits were allowed to travel on their passport until the day of its expiry. However, they are now subject to non-EU passport rules, and should be valid for at least three months after the end of your travel date.

This means that even more passport renewals are having to be processed, causing further backlogs in the process.

When should you send off your passport application for a renewal or new passport?

There is currently a minimum of a 10-week wait for passports, following Her Majesty’s Passport Office receiving your application. To be safe, you should leave yourself at least three months before travelling to renew or apply for a passport.

You can apply for an urgent passport renewal if your holiday is looming, using the Online Premium service. Though, there is still a minimum of two days that you’ll need to wait after you apply.

The next step involves you heading to a passport office for an appointment that can take 30 minutes. You’ll receive your passport at this appointment, but it’ll cost you £177, or £187 for frequent traveller passports.

There’s also a one-week fast-track service, which you can apply for using a form from the Post Office but you must also make an appointment at the Passport Office.

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