Passport Office warns of 10-week wait, advises Britons to apply for new passports now

Apr 7, 2021

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If you need a new passport, the time to apply for one is now. Her Majesty’s Passport Office said on Tuesday that it’s urging people not to delay applying for a passport in order to ensure there’s enough time for it to process.

HM Passport Office said on Tuesday that during the pandemic, it’s seen a drop in the number of passport applications it’s received. As such, it’s advising the public to apply now and avoid any delay when international travel is an option — hopefully later this year.

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In a typical year, HM Passport Office said that it processes around seven million passport applications. However, in 2020, the office received just more than four million applications.

“While it is still illegal to holiday overseas and the ‘Stay in the U.K.’ regulation remains in place, by applying for a passport now, people can make sure nothing stands in their way when they can,” HM Passport Office said in a press release.

The government is planning for international travel to return from 17 May at the earliest — though that date could be pushed back. With the population of the country still under a sightly-relaxed lockdown, HM Passport Office is expecting an influx of passport applications ahead of the summer travel season.

Related: Are burgundy British passports still valid for travel to Europe?

Currently, the office is advising Britons to allow for up to 10 weeks for their passport application in order to manage the expected demand of new applications. Ten weeks from now puts us at mid-June — well into the expected summer travel season.

“It is vital those who may need to apply for a new passport do so now,” said Abi Tierney, director general of HM Passport Office. “If you have delayed renewing your passport or are applying for the first time, please apply now so you can receive it in good time.”

When international travel is permitted to return, it will take the form of a traffic light system — red, amber and green — depending on the risk level of the destination. It’s not yet known which countries will be categorised in which traffic light level. The Global Travel Taskforce is expected to announce additional details about the system this week.

Related: What does the ‘traffic light’ travel announcement mean for my summer holiday?

HM Passport Office said it’s going to be sending text messages to people whose passports are nearing expiration so they know to re-apply. The best and quickest way to apply for a new passport is online.

Featured photo by Bloomberg/Getty Images.

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