4.5 million Brits urged to double-check their passport this week if they want to fly this summer
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Do you hear that? That’s the sound of the aircraft doors closing on your dream summer holiday if you’re one of the countless travellers who’ve left it too late in checking their passport issue dates.
The Passport Office — having already warned that customers face record wait times in receiving revised documentation — is now asking holidaymakers to check their passports this week if they’re planning on going away for the start of the U.K’s school summer holidays.
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A new study by Co-op Insurance has even hammered home the scale of it all, finding that 4.5 million Brits will see their passport expire before 18 July, one week before the summer holidays in England and Wales.
In short: if you’re set to jet off abroad around this date then you’ll probably want to double-check your passport and apply for a renewal before 9 May at the absolute latest if you want to ensure you receive your new passports on time and avoid missing out on that trip to sunnier climes.
Related: How and when to renew your passport
‘Sure’, you may even think to yourself, tapping your leathery passport holder safe in the knowledge you renewed yours in 2019, ‘I’m fine’ – but that doesn’t stop you from checking in with friends or family members as to the state of their own passports that have very possibly sat gathering dust over the last two pandemic-hit years.
Amidst all of this, even travellers well aware that they need a new passport face a race against time to receive documentation before summer as delays continue to engulf the government service. Previously, the Passport Office has said customers can face a wait of up to 10 weeks, but for many Brits, it appears to be taking even longer than that.
Don’t expect to fast-track it right now, either. With the hangover from Easter’s Great Travel Rush still apparent, over the past fortnight, the government’s fast-track passport application portal has faced major server errors due to record demand, rendering it unusable for lengthy periods of time, including at the time of writing.
Brits attempting to use the fast-track service — which costs £142 for an adult passport (or £152 for a 50-page frequent traveller passport); and £122 for a child passport (or £132 for a 50-page frequent traveller passport) — continue to be left frustrated.
A spokesperson for Her Majesty’s Passport Office (HMPO) said of the issues: “Given recent interest in passports, we are seeing an increased number of people visiting our website to view appointment availability for urgent services. This has not affected people submitting a passport application.
“We have increased staff numbers by 500 since April 2021, which has helped us to handle more applications than ever before, with more than one million passport applications processed in March 2022.”
In fact, such is the level of chaos at nerve control, Boris Johnson has even talked about privatising the Passport Office to increase efficiency: “When I see institutions not delivering things like passports or driving licences in a speedy way … we want action,” said the PM.
For now, the fate of your summer break is in your hands. On the back of his firm’s survey, Graham Ward-Lush, head of travel at Co-op Insurance has urged any holidaymakers to “check the expiration date on their own passports and also any family members” in order to avoid having their summer plans torn to shreds.
He added: “There can’t be a more heart-breaking scenario than unearthing a passport the night before travel, only to realise that it is out of date. We want to help ensure that people all over the UK manage to have their dream holiday this summer and aren’t stranded at home due to invalid travel documentation.”
So there you have it. Kickstart that holiday WhatsApp group and send out an SOS (Save our Summer) before it’s too late. And for a complete guide to how and when to renew your British passport, click here.
Featured photo by Getty Images.
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