Passport Q&A: Families 'held to ransom' but application 'backlogs' are denied. What do you need to know?

With fears growing about delays in the issue of UK passports, Simon Calder provides some answers

Travel Correspondent

Q What is happening at the Passport Office?

That depends who you believe. According to the PCS union, there is a backlog of half-a-million passports, which they claim is as a result of job cuts at the Passport Office. As a result, it is feared that holidays and business trips could be jeopardised. The government maintains that the vast majority of passports are being issued and renewed as normal, and that there is no need to panic.

Given that around 6m passports are likely to be issued or renewed this year, and assuming a three-week processing time, at any one time you would expect around 350,000 passports to be in the system – with a peak around this time of year, as people realise their passports are soon to expire and they have a holiday booked.

Read more
Passport office backlog: David Cameron promises extra staff to clear pile of applications
Passport Office 'backlogs': Families being 'held to ransom' by fees for fast-tracked applications  

Most of the people who have contacted The Independent with concerns are special cases: people who have had their passport stolen or simply can’t find it; adults who have never had a passport before, and who must have a personal interview; and expatriates based abroad who are experiencing long delays. The information here deals only with straightforward replacements for adults and new passports for children.

Q I am going on holiday in Europe in July, and my passport expires in August. Do I need to renew it?

No. There are lots of scurrilous rumours doing the rounds online saying that, for example, anyone going to the Canaries needs three or six months remaining on their passport. This is nonsense. The Foreign Office says: “Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. No additional period of validity beyond this is required. This applies to the whole of Spain, including the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands (Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera).” The same applies to Croatia – another country that is subject to misinformation – and anywhere else in the EU. As far as I am aware, the only European countries with more complex rules are Russia, Belarus and Iceland.

Q What about further afield?

Egypt and Turkey are likely to present problems to some British holidaymakers. Your passport should be valid for a minimum of six months from the date of entry into either country. In addition, for Turkey you need to apply online for a visa at evisa.gov.tr/en.

For the US, however, you need no additional validity. But you must apply in advance for an “Esta” at esta.cbp.dhs.gov.

Q I am travelling in July and I need a replacement passport. Should I apply in the normal way?

In theory, if you apply today you should expect a straightforward renewal within four weeks. However, to make sure you will need to invest more time and money. Either go for the Fast Track one-week service for £103 (compared with the normal fee of £72.50) or the Premium 1-day service for £128. Whichever you choose, you will need to call the Passport Adviceline on 0300 222 0000 to make an appointment at one of the passport offices in London, Liverpool, Belfast, Durham, Glasgow, Newport or Peterborough. You may have to wait up to three weeks for an appointment.

Q And August?

With seven weeks to spare, I would apply in the normal way – but invest an extra £8.75 for the Check & Send service at the Post Office, which should pick up any errors and avoid hold-ups.

Q My passport is already in the system and I am due to travel in a week. What can I do?

Call the Passport Adviceline on 0300 222 0000 to see if you can upgrade your application to use the Premium 1-Day service. You will need the barcode number of your application; this was on your application form, or on your receipt if you used Check & Send. If you are allowed to proceed, you will need to go to one of the passport offices.

The Passport Office warns: “Upgrades are usually only available in special circumstances - for example, you’ve had to change your travel plans at short notice” and “the service isn’t always available during Her Majesty’s Passport Office’s busy periods.”

Q If I miss my holiday because I haven't got a passport, can I claim compensation?

No. The Passport Office says: "Don’t book travel until you have a valid passport - doing so is at your own risk."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleComedian launches stinging attack on PM
Life and Style
The collection displayed Versace’s softer side, with models wearing flowers and chiffon dresses in unusual colourings
fashionVersace haute couture review
News
Andy Murray shakes hands after defeating Andreas Seppi of Italy in the third round of Wimbledon, Saturday 4 July, 2015
Wimbledon
Arts and Entertainment
'The Leaf'
artYes, it's a leaf, but a potentially very expensive one
News
Yoko Ono at the Royal Festival Hall for Double Fantasy Live
people'I wont let him destroy memory of John Lennon or The Beatles'
News
Could Greece leave the EU?
news
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

    Recruitment Genius: Transportation Contracting Manager

    £33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

    Recruitment Genius: Payroll and Benefits Co-ordinator

    £22300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum group is looking for a Payro...

    Day In a Page

    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'