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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 (109)

  • Matthew says:

    In case it is helpful to anyone, the only dates I can find F seats availability are on Friday 26 June (ie: tomorrow) and Friday 31 July. It appears that all of the other dates operate a 787-8, which does not have a first class.

    If they had more availability I may have considered a joy ride in F. 🙂

    • Andrew says:

      But a word of caution, even if you do book a seat in First, on the day they often block off First and your seat is reallocated to Club. This happens regularly on the 777 to Madrid.

      • Geoff says:

        Yes, you are not automatically allowed to sit in F as gold. The F cabin is only available if the aircraft is crewed appropriately.

        • Lady London says:

          …and if the crew dont want to use it as their own private rest area?

      • Mikey says:

        +1

        Tried booking first seating on this route (Gold) and seems to allow at seat selection but post sale error message displays ‘unable to allocate you requested seats’ or similar and auto assigns available CW seat & suggests, though will not allow, rebooking in ‘Manage My Booking’

        Easy enough to cancel for refund (as within 24 hours), though 0800 Gold line auto cuts off continually but got through on the London number.

        • Josh says:

          So you only wanted to fly on the route just to sit on a first class seat and not to actually go to AMS? Right…

          • Mikey says:

            I was due to go out to Utrecht the preceding week for work, which was then pushed back & for the experience & same cost, it might be fun. Oddly enough, I’ve never flown on a Dreamliner before & thought it might be a more pleasant experience rather than the usual A319/320 affair, as the CE experience is hardly noteworthy. I also thought it might also enable better social distancing for what was essential travel.

  • Pablo says:

    Aber sie sollten blau sein?!

    • WaynedP says:

      Ha ha, maybe Herr Cummings has taken seriously the April Fool joke that soon all EU passports would be blue too

  • Jeff 99 says:

    FCO:

    There’s nothing on there about a ban until 6th July. (It could be the case, of course, that the FCO information hasn’t been updated)

    “ The Dutch government has imposed an entry ban for non-essential travel by non-EU nationals until 15 June 2020. The ban was introduced on 18 March, and is not applicable to UK and EU nationals. More information can be found on the Dutch government website (in English).

    All travellers from areas deemed high risk or who have COVID-19 symptoms are strongly advised to quarantine for 14 days. This includes travellers from the UK. The Dutch government has confirmed that quarantine measures for travellers from the UK will remain in place after 15 June.”

    • Richmond_Surrey says:

      I visited Netherlands in May and June with no issue. I was transiting outbound and staying in hotel on a way back. No one asked me about anything at the border.

    • Genghis says:

      It’s best to go straight to source
      “ Foreign tourists arriving from all parts of Sweden and all parts of the United Kingdom are strongly advised to self-quarantine for 14 days immediately after arriving in the Netherlands.”
      Ie. You can still enter and it’s “strong advice”. Whether “advice” means “you must” as in the FCA sense, who knows
      https://www.government.nl/topics/coronavirus-covid-19/tourism-in-the-netherlands

      • Jeff 99 says:

        Either way, there’s nothing about people from the U.K. not being allowed in until 6th July as suggested in the article.

        • Hannah says:

          UK citizens definitely can travel to Holland, I’m going on Sunday.

          Not sure if it’s useful for anyone but I’ve also had confirmation from the embassy that staying in a private residence is acceptable and meets the requirement in terms of having accommodation booked. You just need to provide the address.

        • Marcw says:

          UK citizens can enter The Netherlands. there was a previous recommendation by the Dutch Government, but that didn’t last long (I believe the same day it was published, in the afternoon it got pulled).

    • Harry T says:

      As far as I’m aware, the 14 day quarantine is not enforced and you are allowed to enter the Netherlands as a UK citizen.

      • PerkyPat says:

        There has been one flight a day from NCL to AMS for at least 2 weeks. Cant be all transit passengers, can they?

  • Ticktock says:

    “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.”

    So the non-essential travel restriction is due to be lifted? Says who?

    • Alan says:

      Indeed, I haven’t seen any mention of this is the press so far – any source you can link us to, Rob, as this is a pretty major change!

    • Andrew says:

      There are a lot of rumours of the quarantine restrictions for incoming passengers from certain countries being lifted. I don’t see how the FCO can advise against travel to, say, France whilst at the same time allowing French into the UK without any restrictions. I suspect the two will go hand in hand.

    • Rob says:

      It has to be lifted or the whole ‘air bridges’ thing is a nonsense.

  • Paul Banks says:

    Agree. Mother in law sent off her application digitally on the 14th June. Its now been printed and is on its way. I wonder if digital applications are getting through quicker (and those where fewer checks are needed).

  • Ian M says:

    She got lucky, a friend of mine has been waiting 8 weeks for their renewal

  • tony says:

    It’s shocking from the passport office to be honest. I called them in May to ask about a renewal and they said simply don’t bother. If you can’t go on holiday then that’s too bad (pretty much word for word). So they all sit around talking down what they can do, get back to work and pick up a load of overtime, whilst joe public is left nursing some significant losses as they followed the advice and now don’t have a valid passport.

    • Jeff 99 says:

      Can’t you just go on holiday once your new passport arrives?

      • tony says:

        No, because the holiday was already booked. We were away in February and the plan had been to apply for the renewal in March once we knew we weren’t travelling at Easter, giving plenty of time for an August holiday. (passport expires in September)

        It’s hugely complicated (& boring) as some of the destinations required more months on the passport than others. That leg of the trip is definitely off, the other bit will presumably get cancelled now anyway, but if we do try to go away in August we are further limited as to choice of destination.

        However none of this detracts from the fact the passport office lied in telling me they weren’t processing new applications and claimed to still be working through a backlog from before the pandemic hit, when that’s simply not the case. The FCO will reverse its travel advice a lot quicker than the passport office will pull its finger out leaving a lot of people high and dry.

        • Tony says:

          Wry typical of Local Government and National Government services.
          My step daughter comes under Midlothian council and they have effectivrly shut up shop since the start of the pandemic by not answering any telephone calls.
          Very shoddy when most organisations have continued to operate via home working. We can all accept delays given the circumstances but no service such as above and being clearly shown here regarding the Passport Office is a disgrace.
          Maybe they have run out of tge dreadful new black passport?

        • Jeff 99 says:

          People should have renewed their passport before they booked.

          Obviously that doesn’t excuse the incompetence of the authorities.

          • tony says:

            That’s right, @Jeff 🙄
            Perhaps you’re atypical but I think you’ll find most around here have always had the next trip booked. A 4 month window to do a passport renewal shouldn’t be seen as cutting it fine in any way, shape or form.

          • Charlieface says:

            But renewal months aren’t carried forward anymore, so people renew last minute (cynical ploy to get more money by Gov blamed on Brexit).
            https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2018/09/passport-applicants-hit-out-after-being-given-shorter-than-expec/

          • babyg says:

            slow clap for Jeff…… because when i booked my trip last year i should have predicted the disruption COVID was going to cause… and with only 1 year remaining (now 3 months) that was never enough time to renew… gosh i wish Jeff was there to advise me….

  • Ian says:

    If you travel abroad frequently a second passport is most useful. After all, you may not have use of your passport for a few days if it’s at an embassy having a visa issued. For many years I had a second UK passport and the application process was easy, backed up by a letter from an employer or client I was working for.

    • babyg says:

      ive never heard of this, its very interesting – doesnt help my daughter who is only 5, but a good tip!

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