10-week waits for new passports and renewals puts holiday bookings at risk

Holidaymakers heading overseas, as travel restrictions ease, are being warned they face up to a 10-week wait for new passports and renewals.

This is more than three times longer than pre-Covid waiting times, when it took just three weeks to get a new document.

The Home Office issued the warning amid a potential rush for passport renewals.

: Wales launches digital Covid vaccine certificates for people needing to travel abroad

Fewer people applied for new passports last year, creating the potential for higher-than-usual renewals this summer.

In 2020 there were just four million passport applications in 2020, down from seven million in 2019.

Officials have stressed the 10-week guidance for renewals and applications is designed to help people to plan their trips.

It will also ensure travellers leave enough time to renew their passports before setting off.

But there are signs some people may have been caught out.

One parent wrote on Twitter: “I haven’t been able to get an appointment for weeks and my flight is on August 18.

“At this rate, I’m going to ruin my kids’ summer holidays.”

Text reminders have been sent by mobile phone out to people whose passports are nearing expiry, warning: “Don’t leave it too late.”

The Home Office said passport applications are being processed promptly and that last month 99.6% of passports using the Fast Track and Digital Premium services were issued on time.

A spokesperson dismissed claims the extended waiting times were the result of civil servants working from home.

They said: “Claims that passport processing times are influenced by staff’s location of work are completely false.

“There is also no passport backlog.

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“Since the outset of the pandemic, over 4.5 million people have delayed applying for a passport.

“This means that potential demand for passports is higher than ever before and passport processing times could change quickly.

“We have therefore been advising applicants since April to plan to wait up to 10 weeks before they receive their passport.”

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