Brits miss holidays waiting for new passports amid ‘inconsistent’ wait times

‘We are currently looking at losing £2,400 as we can’t change the holiday at all and the insurance won’t cover this,’ wrote one consumer

Some British holidaymakers are missing holidays and losing cash because their passports are arriving weeks slower than expected.

Recent reviews on Passportwaitingtime.co.uk, which tracks consumers’ waiting time during applications, show customers’ frustration with the often inconsistent wait times for a new passport.

One user’s review, posted on Wednesday, says she’s waited more than 12 weeks for two of her family’s passports to be renewed.

“Applied for my two children’s renewal 17 Jan and currently still in the processing stage,” one user wrote on Wednesday.

“I have phoned on a weekly basis for the last month as we have a holiday booked for 19 April. I made four applications in Jan and have received two out of four of them. The two I received came within a few weeks, so I don’t understand why it is taking so long.

“It has been the most stressful time. We are currently looking at losing £2,400 as we can’t change the holiday at all and the insurance won’t cover this.”

On Monday, Abi Tierney - director general of HM Passport Office - warned that travellers were leaving their applications too late, urging holidaymakers to apply now ahead of the summer holidays.

The typical waiting time for a new passport is five weeks - as stated on the government website - unless it is a first time adult passport, in which case the average wait is six weeks.

However, the passport office also urges travellers to allow up to 10 weeks to allow for any delays, with the disclaimer, “Standard online application processing times may change quickly.”

Another holidaymaker wrote of their surprise that it had taken nearly two months to receive their child’s first passport. They say they’d moved their flights for an important trip three times, and still had to get their MP involved as well as pick up the passport themselves.

“Despite the fact that the urgency of the passport was needed so myself and my son could travel for my partner to finally meet his son, the process could not be sped up,” the angry parent wrote on Passportwaitingtime.co.uk.

“I have had to change our flight three times due to naively thinking that six weeks maximum is enough time for a passport to be issued. I even had to collect it from the local TNT depot.”

A third holidaymaker who had applied for a passport on 25 February said it had taken more than six weeks to arrive, leading to them losing out on a holiday.

“Took a lot longer than the Post Office (check and send) said. Plus I don’t think I was ever given a tracking number! Which made it quite frustrating and we missed our holiday,” they commented on Monday.

Another user who rated the process “stressful” commented: “I’m just glad that hopefully I won’t have to deal with this mess for another 10 years.”

The founder of Passportwaitingtime.co.uk, Andy Anderson, said the site is receiving a record amount of traffic a day - over 30,000 pageviews - suggesting to him that a large number of people are applying this spring, and that many of them are anxious about longer than usual waiting times.

“There do appear to be some delays at the moment and I think it’s the inconsistency that frustrates people,” he told The Independent.

“Some people receive their passport in as few as 15 days, while some have to wait a lot longer and have missed holidays due to this.

“Just to add to the mix, from the feedback we receive, TNT seems to be failing quite badly at times and in some cases take over a week to deliver once the passport is with them.”

A note on TNT’s website says: “Please allow several working days (Monday to Friday) from receipt of your notification from HM Passport Office before attempting to track your shipment.

“We are experiencing a higher demand than expected for our delivery service.  As a result, deliveries may take longer than usual.  We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

The Independent has approached TNT for comment.

A Home Office spokesperson said: ““Due to Covid-19, over five million people delayed applying for a British passport throughout 2020 and 2021. In preparation for the demand for international travel returning, since April 2021 we have been advising people to allow up to ten weeks when applying for their passport. This remains the case.

“We are dealing with record demand and in March 2022, we processed more than one million new passport applications, 13% higher than the previous record in March 2019.

“We urge people who need a new passport to apply for one without delay. We also offer urgent services for applicants who need a passport more quickly.

“Our dedicated staff are working tirelessly to ensure that passport applications are processed as quickly as possible.”

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