Battle for Passports: Government Warns Vacationers It Will Take 10 WEEKS For Applications Due To Backlog In 2020 And PM Promise Of Low-Cost Testing Program To Jump-Start Foreign Flights
- Passport Office has said that Britons should now allow up to 10 weeks for applications
- It said there had been a “significant drop” in the number of applications during the pandemic
- But the return of international travel in the coming months could lead to an increase in requests
- Comes after Boris Johnson said he had not ‘given up’ flights from May 17
Britons are now advised to allow up to 10 weeks to process passport applications ahead of an expected spike in the pre-summer holidays after the number of applications has plummeted in 2020.
The passport office said the number of people applying for travel documents “ fell significantly ” last year as the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc with international travel.
In a normal year, the office handles about seven million requests, but in 2020 it was just over four million.
Boris Johnson yesterday fueled optimism that non-essential international travel will resume from May 17, saying he has not “ given up ” the target date by the target date set out in his lockdown exit roadmap.
The passport office is now poised for a spike in applications and is urging people to spend more time processing them.
Britons are advised to allow up to 10 weeks for passport applications to be processed after applications have fallen sharply in 2020 (stock image)
Boris Johnson has raised optimism about the resumption of non-essential international travel from May 17 after saying he had not “ given up ” by that date
The passport office said that while there is still a ban on non-essential international travel, “ people can make sure nothing gets in their way if they ” can go abroad by applying now.
The agency said ‘all applications will be processed as soon as possible’, but warned people ‘should now wait 10 weeks’.
Director General of Her Majesty’s Passport Office, Abi Tierney, said: “It is vital that those who may need to apply for a new passport do so now.
If you have been delayed in renewing your passport or are applying for the first time, apply now so that you can receive it on time.
‘Our dedicated staff work tirelessly to ensure that passport applications are processed as quickly as possible.
“This new advice will help ensure that we continue to meet our customers’ travel plans during any time of the highest demand for passports.”
The passport office sends text messages to people whose passports are about to expire to remind them to renew.
Mr. Johnson announced earlier this week that a traffic light system will be used when international travel is allowed to resume.
The system will see countries graded as green, orange, or red based on criteria such as the number of coronavirus cases, vaccination levels, and variant prevalence.
Travel from ‘green’ countries will be quarantine-free, but people will still need to be tested before departure and upon arrival in the UK.
Aviation chiefs expressed concern that the test requirement could cost many people from vacations abroad.
But Mr. Johnson hinted yesterday that inexpensive lateral flow tests could be used in place of more expensive lab-based PCR tests.
In a normal year, the passport office handles about seven million applications, but in 2020 it was just over four million
He said, “We’re going to see what we can do to make things as flexible and affordable as possible.
‘I do want international travel to get going again. We have to be realistic. Many of the destinations we want to go to right now are suffering from another wave of Covid’s disease, as we know.
‘We can’t do it right away, but that doesn’t mean we gave up on May 17. We will tell you as much as possible about international travel as soon as possible.
“I know how impatient people are to book their vacation when they can, but I think we just need to be careful at this stage.”