There has been an ‘unprecedented…yet foreseeable’ surge in passport applications in recent months, one which has resulted in reported delays to the standard 10-week waiting time listed on the government website.
It has been estimated that the delays could cost holidaymakers up to £1.1 billion in cancelled trips this year.
Several MPs have spoken out critically about the situation. Conservative MP for North Dorset Simon Hoare claimed the Passport Office were unprepared for the ‘foreseeable’ increase in demand for applications.
He also accused the Passport Office helpline of letting down applicants who were attempting to track their applications, saying: ‘Constituents going abroad for a family funeral, for a holiday or for business reasons are not getting through to the office, and are lied to by officials when they do.’
Some MPs have reported anecdotal evidence that waiting times are as high as 15 weeks, with families waiting up to 5 months for passports to arrive.
In a statement addressing the delays, the Passport Office claimed that: ‘Since April 2021, HMPO (HM Passport Office) has been advising people to allow up to ten weeks when applying for their British passport. This remains the case.’
Why are passports taking so long to arrive?
According to the government, more than 5 million travellers decided to put off renewing their passport during 2020-21 due to Covid travel restrictions.
In their statement, the Passport Office claimed that the present delays are not because they are catching up on the backlog during Covid, but rather down to the current surge in demand.
Research from the VisitBritain Covid-19 Consumer Sentiment Tracker estimates that ‘more than two in five [travellers] are planning an overseas trip in the coming 12 months,’ as stated by the CEBR.