Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Long delays reported by the UK Passport Office

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

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)

  • Marcw says:

    I never understood the drama around Passport renewal. In Spain, you book a slot, go in, hand in your photos, pay your 25€, sign, confirm the information,… And in less than 10 min you have your passport in your hand [if you leave abroad and need to do it over the consulate/Embassy, it takes longer]

    • Anna says:

      25 euros! (It’s about £80 here). I’m currently in the process of “reclaiming” my Spanish nationality – if you have a Spanish parent it is conferred automatically but you have to re-apply for it once you are an adult, I don’t know if it will give me any benefits in future but it can’t hurt. I’m pondering the second surname requirement though, as presumably the passport is going to have to match the name on any ticket. I could use my mother’s maiden name or my married name but not sure which order would be best to put them in. Any tips? (At present I am generally known by my father’s first surname and occasionally use my married name).

      • Nick says:

        I would follow the Spanish naming convention if you’re going to do that.

        • Anna says:

          What exactly do you mean? The naming convention is to take the first surname of your mother and that of your father. My mother only had one surname, being English, and there’s no requirement for me to take it. I have never been known by that name, but I am recognisable by my married name so it would make much more sense to incorporate that.

      • marcw says:

        I have no idea how that works. In a normal situation, being born in Spain, you take the first surname of your dad (this will become your first surname) and the first surname of your mum (this will be your second surname). Nowadays, parents can choose, if they wish, the reverse the order. The individual, once they become 18 y/o, may as well change the order of their surnames.

        Now, in your case, I have no clue.

        • Anna says:

          I’ve read that most countries treat the first surname as a middle name because they don’t have two boxes for surnames, so it would make more sense for me to have the name I usually go by as the second surname. Here in the UK I always get asked where my unusual surname is from, and in Spain I get asked why that’s my only surname! So I don’t fit in 100% in either country. 🤣

          • Josh says:

            Surely there are non-Spanish naturalized citizens who also have this conundrum…I would have thought they would be able to cope with just one surname? But of course this is Spain…

          • Lady London says:

            ask a spanish person how the nane on their ticket was made up

            i have a feeling airlines just carry on through the name and truncate. So firstname then as much of the first surname as will fit then if any soace left as much of the second surname as will fit.

            So not taking the firstname then jumping to take the lastsurname : instead, just proceeding through as above so long as there’s space.

            So logically so that your ticketname might match both passports I’d apply for the Spanish passport using my British surname from my British passport as the first surname and then the Spanish one as the second surname.

            I think this makes sense as for people related to the Spanish royal family/ nobility they can have very long lists of family surnames not just two.

          • Genghis says:

            Completely unrelated but I’ve a French colleague with quite a few “de’s” in their surname. I remember him saying he had problems with US officials when applying for a US visa.

          • Anna says:

            LL, Spanish people often use airlines like Iberia whose booking forms require 2 surnames so don’t have the same issue. I might ask my Spanish cousin what she does when she flies Easyjet or Ryanair though. To clarify, though, I officially have one surname, and that is my Spanish dad’s first surname. So I don’t have a “second” surname of any nationality, unless you count my married name which I sometimes use informally, such as within the family. So I would have to officially adopt a second surname on my Spanish passport, but the dilemma is which one? In Spain this would be my mother’s first surname, but my mother is English, has only ever had one surname at a time, and I have never been known by her maiden name so it would feel infinitely weirder to adopt that than to use my married name, which at least has some connection to me!

          • marcw says:

            Ok, my take. I’m a Spanish passport holder and have lived in Spain, the UK and now, The Netherlands. Never have I had any issue with my two surnames. In Spain it’s common to have two boxes for each surname, but anywhere else, that’s not the case. You just put both surnames in the “Surname” box, separated by a space (some people use hyphens instead). They usually fit – and if they don’t, you only put your first surname. The same with airline tickets, although AFAIK, what really matters is your first surname. never ever had an issue.

            In your case Anna, I don’t know what you can do or not. But, you could as well end with my surname duplication: in my case both surnames are the same. The reason is, even though I was born in Spain, my parents got married in Germany, and my dad took my mums surname. Now, when I was born, the civil servant that registered my name said, “ok, first surname of your dad – he is german, so only has one surname, the one he took from my mum when married, and my, and first surname of my mum (also German, same surname). So I ended up with two identical german surnames.

          • Anna says:

            That’s very interesting marcw! The solicitor I’m using says one surname has to be my mother’s but don’t seem to know whether that’s her maiden name, or my dad’s name, which she took when they married. So I may well end up as “Anna Bloggs Bloggs” for Spanish purposes. It’s only going to be an issue if I use my Spanish passport to get into Spain or other EU countries if they bring in some sort of visa requirement for UK nationals, and it appears differently from the name on my boarding card.

        • Anna says:

          Oh yes those really long names! I wonder what Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso had on his passport 🤣

      • John says:

        The names on your British and Spanish passports need to be exactly the same because Theresa May was so scared of immigrants with strange names. If you use a different set of names on a Spanish passport you won’t be able to renew your British passport without lying. Never mind tickets as long as it broadly matches nobody except Ryanair cares.

    • Lady London says:

      That exact same service is quoted as a “Priority” service in the UK and is used as an excuse to cost you 10x the amount. i.e. same service costs 200 euros or so here.

      I think we in the UK are being conned.

      • Anna says:

        I agree – and a kid’s passport costs more than half what an adult’s does but only lasts 5 years so that’s even more of a con!

      • Tony says:

        Have been for a longtime in many different ways.

        • Rob says:

          Depends if you define ‘conned’ as ‘paying the correct cost of your service without any state subsidy’.

          Even at £177 for the same-day service, it must still be loss-making if they cost it properly. For a start, the freehold of the Victoria Passport Office is worth well over £100 million if it was sold off for housing. You could move the processing staff to Slough if you weren’t running the Premium service.

  • The Lord says:

    Wonder if similar issues with visa processing?

    • Sanya says:

      Yes it most definitely is. I have submitted an application for Indefinite leave to Remain (Permanent residency) and its been sitting for the past 4 months as no appointments are available for bio-metrics processing. In the meanwhile, if I leave the country my application (costing £3k) becomes invalid, and I cannot change employers or quit or do anything I want to.

      • The Lord says:

        Terrible, good luck with your application. Did you have the option to pay the extra for the in person premium service?

        • Sanya says:

          I did when I submitted in March, but they have not been able to complete the service due to the centers closing. For new applications, the have suspended all premium services entirely. This is forcing people with expiring visas to submit under standard processing which prevents travel for over 6 months.

  • Ron says:

    Renewed our daughters passport couple of weeks ago and got it back less than 14 days. Her new passport is still the burgundy one, but without EU on the front. Wonder what determine the processing time? Surely all straight forward applications should take roughly the same amount of time.

  • Nick says:

    “No idea why some are being expedited and some aren’t”

    Presumably this depends which of the 7 passport offices you send it to? As in, some offices are processing as normal and some aren’t?

    • Ron says:

      We did it online and was being updated throughout the whole process. I found it useful to know where you are within the process.

  • Sarah says:

    There’s quite a useful site which monitors the time it’s taking for passports to be processed, seems experiences are quite mixed and different offices are taking different amounts of time.

  • B P says:

    I used the online renewal (which involved taking a selfie) and it was 10 calendar days from submission to the new (blue) passport being delivered. This was in early June. Weirdly the delivery person had to take a picture of my front door when he delivered the document.

    • Also says:

      Proof it went to the right person given that you are not allowed to sign for post right now.

      • Josh says:

        Never had to sign for a new passport before anyway. They were always just pushed through the letterbox by the courier.

  • Anna says:

    I’ve got a booking there in December and they seemed to be filling up as I struggled to get a room that would accommodate 3 of us. They said they were going to be really busy in the run up to Xmas.

  • Nathan says:

    ‘Irrespective of UK travel guidelines, UK citizens cannot enter the Netherlands until at least 6th July and there is no guarantee that the ban will be lifted after that. The same rules apply for Danish and Swedish nationals.’

    What happened to that bit of EU law that said one cannot discriminate against fellow EU members individually i.e. the self same reason that the UK’s proposed reciprocal untrammelled entry for the French, and no others, had to be binned?

    • Nick_C says:

      A) Rob is wrong. See earlier comments.

      B) They are not discriminating against UK Nationals. They are discriminating, quite reasonably, against people arriving in the Netherlands from the UK.

    • riku2 says:

      There is no EU law about entry to individual states. The member states decide for themselves, there is no “EU law” in this area. Even in the schengen zone individual countries decide. This is why the border from Norway -> Finland is open for free movement but not Sweden -> Finland. EU member states control their own borders and decide who can come in.
      Rob is also mixing up “citizens” with people coming from that country. I live in Finland but i’m not a Finnish citizen. I have a UK passport. And when going to Norway i’m treated as somebody coming from Finland – nothing related to the nationality on my passport.

    • Chris Beyer says:

      Well, di you not leave the EU?

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.