Child misses out on family holiday after passport renewal takes 12 weeks and counting

Exclusive: ‘I was, and still am, gutted about him missing his first ever beach holiday,’ says mother of two

<p>Victoria’s son Max had to miss their family holiday</p>

Victoria’s son Max had to miss their family holiday

Delays with passport applications are continuing to impact British holidaymakers as one child has been waiting 12 weeks – and counting – for his new travel document, missing a much-anticipated family holiday in the meantime.

Five-year-old Max Goodsir’s passport renewal was first submitted on 1 March 2022.

His mother, Victoria Richards, had planned a break to Cyprus for the whole family departing the following month on 3 April.

“I knew I was cutting it fine, applying to renew my children’s passports just five weeks before we were due to fly to Cyprus,” she tells The Independent. “But it was a last-minute holiday, a last-minute decision. A spontaneous break away with their grandparents (my parents), who’d missed them terribly during the past two years of the pandemic.

“Reduced to doorstep drops and FaceTime catch-ups – not to mention a strictly-cordoned, two-metre-distanced Christmas Day visit – they were excited to spend a full 10 days away making up for all they’d missed.”

But it wasn’t to be – while Ms Richards’ daughter’s passport was returned within three weeks without a hitch, it soon became clear Max’s passport wouldn’t be ready in time.

The rest of the family were forced to go on holiday without him.

“I had to tell my son why he wouldn’t be coming away on holiday with his sister,” says Ms Richards. “That was a very tough conversation. I couldn’t help him understand.”

She adds: “I was, and still am, gutted about him missing his first ever beach holiday, a time to make sandcastles and swim in the sea and spend precious time away with his grandparents.”

Though disappointed, Ms Richards was confident that the new passport would be returned a few weeks later – on 5 April the status of the application was updated to “being processed”.

However, the six-week mark passed – the average processing time for renewals, according to the UK passport office – as did the 10-week mark, which is the generous amount of time travellers are currently advised to allow to receive their new passport.

It has now been exactly 12 weeks since Max’s passport application was submitted.

“I fully accept that you shouldn’t book a holiday before you know for sure you’ve got the right documentation, and I know how fortunate we are to even have the chance to go abroad at all, but it frustrates me that there’s such a glaring discrepancy between people getting their passports back within a week and being able to go away – and people like my little boy, who still hasn’t had his back after three months,” says Ms Richards.

“His dad now wants to go away with both our kids in the summer, and we still don’t know if our son will be able to go. It depends when we get his documents back. I can’t bear the thought he might miss out a second time."

After The Independent got in touch with HM Passport Office, a spokesperson confirmed that the application had been “approved” on 19 May and was finally printed on 23 May. It is now with the designated delivery company.

When asked why a straightforward five-year-old child’s passport renewal had taken so long to process, the spokesperson spoke of “checks” and “security”.

In response to the broader issue of passport delays, they said: “Since April 2021, we’ve clearly stated that people should allow up to 10 weeks when applying for their passport to factor in the increased demand, which has seen five people million people delay their passport application due to the pandemic.

“The overwhelming majority of applications are completed within 10 weeks, with the latest figures showing 90 per cent were completed within six weeks. But we cannot compromise security checks and people should apply with plenty of time prior to travelling.”

Britons are advised not to book travel abroad before they have a valid passport.

HM Passport Office provides an expedited service where an application from the UK has been with them for longer than 10 weeks; if a customer can prove they’re due to travel within the next fortnight, their case will be prioritised.

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