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Long delays reported by the UK Passport Office

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Have you been waiting weeks for your renewed passport to come back?

MoneySavingExpert published a slightly worrying article this week about the problems currently facing the Passport Office.

For the last few months, the Passport Office website has been advising people not to apply for passports unless they need to travel urgently.  It gave the impression that standard applications were not being processed, but that was not true.  However, many people decided to delay their application based on this guidance.

It now appears that there is, in many cases, currently a 2+ month wait to renew a passport.  This is not happening to everyone, oddly, although it isn’t clear why some are being expedited and others not.

There is no Premium or Fast Track service at present either.  I used Premium last year when I renewed mine and it was surprisingly good – I booked a slot a couple of days before for the early morning, popped round to the office, handed over my papers, went into work as usual and popped back in the evening to pick it up.  It wasn’t cheap but, as I had travel pencilled in for every couple of weeks until renewal, I didn’t want to risk any delays.

There is also no interview service, which is necessary for most people applying for their first adult passport.

Remember that your travel insurance will not reimburse you if you have to cancel a holiday due to not having the necessary documents.  This has not been a problem to date because the Foreign Office guidance on avoiding ‘non-essential travel’ triggers insurance payments in most cases, but this is due to be lifted in the next few days.

Comments (108)

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  • Lady London says:

    I’m not particularly impressed that various government services seem not to making much effort and even be seeking to prolong not working.

    If supermarket workers are having to turn up and work behind perspex screens and with hygiene measures, I dont see why some availability including in person for defined urgent needs, cannot be provided in government and public service offices when everyone even small businesses is trying to get back on their feet.

    I also had the impression government employees are all on 100% pay whether they are being called to work or not.

    It’s not good enough and applies across a range of public services. I’m also sick of funding public service workers the luxury of defined benefit pensions that any sane employer in the UK stopped offering about 20 years ago due to the expense. Unlike pensions I and my employer contribute to, money is not put aside for hovernment employee pensions – there’s no money kept back to pay these at all they are ‘unfunded’. These pensions are paid to recipients by taxes paid in by all of us each year and guaranteed increasing levels.

    Recovery must be gradual across the country due to social distancing needs but it must start now and government services and their publicly open locations must take the lead now and start offering a service.

    • Lady London says:

      To the poster with a new baby they cant get a first passport for as no face to face (not even across perspex) service is being offered so they have to move or cancel travel arrangements, my annoyed comment above about public offices and government employees not even trying to work out a way to provide a service when the rest of us have to, was prompted by your plight.

      The Passport Office should provide a minimal personal service now. Otherwise things just stay worse for longer.

      • Lady London says:

        correct ChrisC if you cant even register a birth some time after the baby’s been born because some lazy local public service provider has not bothered to find a solution to provide the ounlic service they’re supposed to then this is exactly why I am getting annoyed.

        This epidemic is only round one. If public employees and their management are not prepared to work out a way to provide the service they’re supposed to then let’s outsource the lot and see if they’d rather have tried to work like everyone else whose taxes sponsor them.

        • ChrisC says:

          Stop with the insults of public servants.

          It was the government who made the decision to halt registrations.

        • Riccatti says:


          “The Government” will not act without the advice of the said public servants, whether it be a minister, or a leader of the local council — for operations they do as advised.

          If the hardworking public servants want to stay away from offices, they so advice.

          What about a responsible public servant raising a concern: how would it affect the mere mortals if the Government stops issuing papers, eg birth certificates.

    • Aston100 says:


      • memesweeper says:

        Even in non-unionised parts of government you will often find a culture of near-total risk avoidance in middle management — which is hardly surprising as there are no incentives to take any risk.

        • Lady London says:

          IME despite motivational management-speak I have always found the stick works much better than the carrot.

          I am prepared to have months of public sector strikes, streets not cleaned, rubbish not collected, etc, if thats what it takes to sort this problem.

      • Lady London says:

        This needs to be broken. Rishi will never get the country back on its feet until he faces and sorts out the removal of these public sector pension arrangements that are so unfair on the rest of us. The cost even now is becoming unsustainable for the taxpayer.

        Government employees and other public servants need to be back at work now like the rest of us. Same exemptions as the private sector for those needing to shield.

        • Rob says:

          I didn’t think Government employees could be furloughed? On this basis they are all working.

          • Lady London says:

            Exactly. As in being paid but not even trying to work. Meanwhile public services not being provided.

            That was OK after 4 or 6 weeks or even 8 at a push. But it’s been 13 weeks now and they’re not even trying in a lot of services/places. Epidemics as a concept there has to be an operations plan for to keep operating has to be ongoing now – for public and private sectors.

          • Lady London says:

            All 100% paid but apparently lots not actually working. DWP, DVLA, passport office, many, many local services….it’s public services just not being provided.

          • memesweeper says:

            Some definitely are, as are many private sector workers under contract to government department/agencies.

        • Anna says:

          Public sector pensions have all been reformed in the past few years. Unfortunately the government did it cack-handedly and is now going to have to pay out a lot of money to judges, firefighters and the like as some of the changes have been deemed to be discriminatory. But there has to be decent pension provision to attract people to the public sector and contributions can be high – over 14% in some cases.

      • BlueThroughCrimp says:

        As a member of one of the nation’s favourite unions to hate, I can say you’re talking absolute nonsense.

        And we’ve carried on, with adaptations pretty much as normal.
        But same old anti-union rhetoric as per. 🙄

        • Lady London says:

          @BlueThroughCrimp I’m actually very much in favour of unions. Have got into trouble for saying so in the workplace.

        • Aston100 says:

          Hopefully we’ll get a government one day that has the courage to smash the militant unions.
          Let’s see London underground staff laughing at that point.

    • Nick_C says:

      … I’m also sick of funding public service workers the luxury of defined benefit pensions that any sane employer in the UK stopped offering about 20 years ago due to the expense. Unlike pensions I and my employer contribute to, money is not put aside for hovernment employee pensions – there’s no money kept back to pay these at all they are ‘unfunded’. These pensions are paid to recipients by taxes paid in by all of us each year and guaranteed increasing levels.”

      As a general statement, that is not true.

      There are a little over 5 million people employed in the public sector – 3 million in central government (which includes the NHS) and 2 million in local government.

      The Local Government Pension Scheme is fully funded. The lowest earners contribute 5.5%, middle earners 6.8%, and the very highest earners 12.5%.

      The scheme has been radically reformed. Employee contributions have risen. Pensions are no longer based on final salary. Retirement age has increased from 60 to 68. I understand other public sector schemes ave also been reformed.

      “Sane employers” stopped final salary schemes for new entrants when Gordon Brown raided the pension funds. Unscrupulous companies also raided their pension funds. Funded Pension schemes used to regularly run in surplus.

      One way or another, I believe we need to provide retired people with a decent income. If this isn’t achieved by generous pension schemes, the state picks up the bill through benefits such as Pensioner Credit. Or we could adopt the US model and have 75 year olds serving us in shops and restaurants (I don’t know what unskilled young people would do if they had to compete with pensioners for jobs.)

      On your other point, most of my friends in the public sector, and the private sector, are working from home. But bins are being emptied, the roads are being repaired (more actively than usual, taking advantage of the reduction in traffic), schools and hospitals are open.

      • Jeff 99 says:

        “ I’m also sick of funding public service workers the luxury of defined benefit pensions ”

        Don’t fund it then.

      • Lady London says:

        I agree with you Nick_C on everything especially local government having largely made the needed pension changes. But still a monster problem of unfunded public sector pensions on a now unaffordable and these days, unfair defined benefit basis for public services/central govt/Whitehalll has to be eliminated before Rishi should look for more from the taxpayer.

        Regardless of the pensions issue it’s too long now for all public services not to be provided at least partially including those involving contact with the public. And the fact none of them got furloughed so theyre all still getting 100% even though departments like DWP and DVLA say not enough staff are working…. not fair. If they want to keep the taxpayer’s goodwill they need to find a way to reopen the public-facing visible parts of their service.

        • Paul says:

          Can I remind you that pubic servants are also tax Payers and they don’t have the luxury of dodging that tax with accountants

        • Jonathan says:

          I can only speak in detail about the NHS Pension scheme but similar changes were enacted to all public sector schemes.

          We are now a career average salary scheme rather than final salary.
          Contribution rates have increased substantially (I pay 13.5%)
          My pension age has increased to 68 and is tied to any further increases in State Pension age. If I choose to retire at 65 I’ll lose nearly 20% of my pension. (How likely is it a doctor will continue to be able to function safely in a craft speciality like surgery at 68? At 2AM in n emergency?)
          The NHS pension scheme delivered a £22 billion surplus over the last 15 years.
          The scheme is now cost neutral to tax payer (within a 2% margin) with 5 yearly actuarial assessments. If future liabilities are predicted to exceed contributions then members contribution rates are increased to cover the shortfall.
          At the last actuarial valuation (published Feb 2019) the scheme was predicted to be 3.2% in surplus.

          The days of the kind of pension the Daily Mail would have you believe we receive are long over. I’ll also ignore the recent taxation issues where many of my colleagues ended up paying effectively 120% tax on their earnings over £105k.

          • Jonathan says:

            I’d also like to point out the passport office staff may not be sat at home twiddling their thumbs. In my hospital dental surgery was stopped as it was perceived to be high risk and low urgency. The dentists and dental nurses were all sent to work in the pharmacy department dispensing prescriptions.

    • Paul says:

      As one of the lazy public servants you insult with your ignorant lack of understanding of our pensions and right wing swivelled eyed loon view of what we do , let me enlighten you.
      Firstly I and many more have worked every day since lockdown often from home, mostly using clapped out IT, in my case, my own. Having endured a decade of below inflation pay awards austerity that starved us of funding meaning there was no money to invest in IT or training.

      We fought for two weeks over Easter to get governments systems to work as we Endeavoured to get free school meals to those in most need Often at midnight and the wee small hours.

      Meanwhile the lowest paid went in to schools daily to keep them safe, secure and ready to reopen .

      We waded through hundreds of pages of guidance often contradictory often stupid displaying a woeful ignorance of education. Public announcements not backed by reality or plans

      As for my luxury pension. It is and has been for almost 10 years A career average pension. When an you are paid 15,000 a year it’s not exactly going to let you experience Q suite travel, even ex EU

      So kindly keep your unpleasant and insulting comments to yourself.

      Yes things could have been better but address that to those who wrought this chaos on us, who spent 10 years starving pubic service of funds, keeping pay at 2010 levels and who focused on the ideological madness of brexit while ignoring the warnings of the national risk register. And let’s not forget being two weeks are to lockdown resulting in 10’s of thousands of unnecessary deaths.

    • Dan says:

      Where to start on this….

      Yes, government workers not furloughed but that’s only because most have been redeployed to work on Covid front line. Getting PPE to hospitals, ensuring there’s a plan for schools reopening etc. Isn’t magic. My partner has been working 12 hour days, sometimes nights (normal a HMRC tax inspector – now responsible for PPE supply pipeline) for no extra pay.

      Public sector pensions are generous, but the contribution rate for employees can be as much as 11%, and base pay far below private sector for roles in e.g law, finance etc total benefit package is probably about equal.

  • memesweeper says:

    The delays for passports are because of what? A response to covid-19? Government workers are essential workers, and much of government is working normally, so why not the Passport Office?

    • Lady London says:

      Cos the employees are privileged public-service scaredy-cats. Not sure about the management’s talents and commitment either. They’re there to provide a service and their management should have come up with a plan to open at least partially at first as we all work to restart.

      If it’s good enough for supermarket workers to work behind perspex screens and other workers to use available protection measures and start work again then why do public service workers think they’re too dainty not to have to serve the public.

  • Paul says:

    You cannot actually select the F seats for the Amsterdam trips – even if you’re a Gold, like me. Once you pay for the booking and get confirmation, you get a message saying the seats weren’t able to be selected and you’re then plonked in the CW cabin instead. F cabin is blocked off, as is often the case on these flights, and the “illusion” of picking a seat in the F cabin is false.

    • Genghis says:

      And even if you can select seats for FLUB, it doesn’t mean to say you get to fly it.
      I remember having an equipment swap 788->789 and selected an F seat but when I got to check in, my CW seat was selected with F area blocked off. Moved up through after speaking to CC through post meal.

  • John Ingram says:

    Hello my wife and I have just re-newed our passports and the process was simple and very fast.
    We had seats on BA booked for Barbados departing mid August and our passports expired in May 2020. We held off applying as the Passport website asked for patience with the Corona Virus epidemic.
    We held off as long as we thought we could and applied online on 11th June, posted our old passports on 12th June. My new passport was issued on 17th and arrived by TNT on 19th June.My application went through the Glasgow office and my wife’s application went via Durham (don’t know why). My wife’s passport is scheduled to be delivered today 25th June.
    We have in last few days re-scheduled our flights to Barbados until next year but that was also fairly easy via the BA Exec Club and a very helpful BA employee called Kate.

    • Jeff 99 says:

      Good post. It appears it’s easy to get a renewal if you use your initiative (I might be expecting too much from most people there)

      • Doc says:

        Does not always work Jeff.
        I used my initiative and applied for renewing my passport on the 29th May and still awaiting to get my new passport. Was also sent to the Durham and so far have had emails and texts to say they are sorry that it is taking longer than usual due to covid-19 etc.
        So it appears that it is completely pot luck.

        • babyg says:

          did you include future booked flight details? I believe this helps (trying this route myself ATM).

  • Tom says:

    “Irrespective of UK travel guidelines, UK citizens cannot enter the Netherlands until at least 6th July”

    Please DO NOT spread false info like this. I even travelled 2 days ago to NL from UK. It has always been possible (the whole crisis long) to travel to NL. The only thing is it’s advising people from UK/Sweden not to travel to NL. They rather you don’t come but it’s not a BAN! There are daily boats going to NL full of UK (and NL) people and all are allowed into the country!

  • Phillip says:

    Just as a point of reference… as a Gold member, on a flight between Toronto and London, originally scheduled for a 787-8 without First, there was a substitution with a 787-9 with First. I booked in one of the First seats, checked in online etc, only to get to the airport and be told they’re closing off the First cabin altogether and just got pushed to what was left in the Club cabin.

  • Antonio says:

    Looks like the airframe has been changed back to a narrowbody…

  • Josh says:

    Seems like the delays are only affecting some people, I renewed my passport on the 10th June and received my new one on the 27th June – faster than when I did it 4 years ago!

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