I have been receiving an increasing number of emails from constituents reporting delays with their passport application or renewals. During a recent meeting with MPs offices, HM Passport Office advised that they are anticipating a large increase in the number of passport applications and renewals next year as travel is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels. This will likely mean more delays and HM Passport Office are currently forecasting to process approximately 9.5 million applications in 2022, which would be 35% higher than normal demand levels. Usually, HM Passport Office processes round 7 million applications each year.
I know this is already impacting constituents in Hornsey and Wood Green who have contacted me in recent months about delays, and I have submitted Written Parliamentary Questions to the Home Office on expected delays and what steps are being taken to prepare for the increase in applications:
Whilst I wait for a response to these questions, HM Passport Office have provided some guidance on steps people can take now to ensure they have their passport in time for their next trip abroad:
- Check your passport expiry date now if you plan to travel to give yourself plenty of time to renew your passport.
- Check Government guidance on passport application waiting times – in April, HM Passport Office changed the guidance on their website which now advises customers in the UK to allow up to 10 weeks to receive their passport. To help decision-making, HM Passport Office are also providing information about the typical processing times for applications completed in previous weeks, which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-passport-office/about-our-services.
- If you are planning to travel to a country in Europe, you will need to check guidance on passport rules for British nationals travelling to Europe, as these have changed due to Brexit. HM Passport Office currently advises that on the day you travel you should have at least 6 months left on your passport. Your passport must also be less than 10 years old on the day after you leave. HM Passport Office’s guidance on this, including a tool to help work out whether you need to renew your passport before travelling to Europe, can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/passport-rules-for-travel-to-europe. This webpage also advises which countries these rules apply to.
- It is cheapest and easiest to apply online at: gov.uk/apply-renew-passport.
For anyone needing a passport more quickly, they can pay for an urgent, guaranteed service (Online Premium or Fast Track) by booking an appointment online at: www.gov.uk/get-a-passport-urgently. Appointments can be booked up to three weeks in advance. Availability is limited by estates constraints and the need to keep our customers and staff safe
Urgent and compassionate applications will continue to be prioritised. If a customer in the UK needs a passport to travel urgently for medical treatment or because a friend or family member is seriously ill or has died, they should call our Passport Adviceline on 0300 222 000.
An expedited service is available to offer additional confidence to those who have pre-booked travel. Where a UK-based customer can evidence they are due to travel within the next fortnight, and where HM Passport Office has had their application for longer than ten weeks, subject to checks being satisfactorily completed their passport will be delivered within seven working days.
HM Passport Office have provided the following table which tells you what steps you should take depending on your situation and when you need to travel:
|If your constituent…||They should:|
|Applied in the UK less than 10 weeks ago and needs to travel soon||Track their application progress online at: www.gov.uk/track-passport-application|
|Has not applied yet from the UK but needs a passport sooner than 10 weeks||Consider whether to book an urgent 1 week Fast Track or Online Premium Service at: www.gov.uk/get-a-passport-urgently|
|Applied in the UK over 10 weeks ago and has proof of travel booked||Check the passport tracker on GOV.UK for instructions on expediting their application: www.gov.uk/track-passport-application|
|Is in the UK and needs a passport urgently for compassionate reasons||Call our Passport Adviceline on 0300 222 000 for our urgent and compassionate service
|Applied abroad and wants to travel urgently||Apply for an Emergency Travel Document at: www.gov.uk/emergency-travel-document. If the application has been with HM Passport Office for more than two weeks longer than the published processing time, the applicant should contact us to reimburse the ETD fee|
|Applied abroad and needs passport urgently for non-travel reasons (proof of ID requirements, access to health services etc.)||Check the application progress online checker for instructions on expediting their application: www.gov.uk/track-passport-application|