13th May 2022
Families planning on travelling abroad this year have been warned to get their passport applications in early as delays continue to build due to a huge backlog at the failing Home Office.
Some travellers are being forced to cancel holidays due to not receiving their passports in time despite applying for a renewal three months in advance.
North Shropshire MP Helen Morgan is warning constituents to apply for passport renewals three months before their intended travel date to ensure they are not disappointed. The Home Office is still advising people to allow 10 weeks and, while some applications are processed within this period, it is increasingly common for applications to take 12 weeks or longer.
Helen Morgan MP said: “Passport delays have been a growing issue but now the situation has reached a genuine crisis point.
“Around one in five of the hundreds of emails I’ve received in the last week have been from people desperate to find out why their application has not been dealt with.
“My team have been doing their best to help – but the Home Office does not answer the phone and takes weeks to reply to emails, whether they come from customers or MPs.
“Therefore it’s really important that anyone who has a trip booked gets their applications in early and makes sure their application is filled out correctly.
“I have written to the Home Secretary to call for action to be taken to improve the situation as soon as possible but, as it stands, the Home Office is clearly not fit for purpose.
“Therefore it was concerning to see reports this morning that the Government is now planning cuts to the number of civil servants working on issues like this.
“However MPs from all political parties are frustrated at the situation with the Passport Office, so hopefully the Government will realise the severity of the situation and act accordingly.”
Many countries also now only let people enter with passports with three or six months left before they expire. Therefore it’s also important people check entry requirements and renew their passport if needed.
Helen has been inundated with requests for help from constituents who have not only had to cope with a long wait to receive their new passport but also with an absence of communication from the department responsible. It has led to a 25 per cent increase in casework for Helen’s office.
One North Shropshire resident only received his passport three days before he was due to celebrate his wife’s 50th birthday this month despite lodging the application back in February.
And another family are still waiting to get a young girl’s passport through 13 weeks after applying. They are fearful of having to cancel the holiday for a second time, after being forced to call it off the first time due to coronavirus.
A regular frustration is that when attempting to contact the Home Office, people are put on hold for hours at a time only for the call to then be disconnected. Some people have travelled 190 miles to Durham in an attempt to speak to the passport office directly after failing to get through on the phone or via email.
- Apply at least 10 weeks before you need your new passport. Most applications are solved within this time, some are quicker but some are longer.
- Take your time and make sure your application is filled out accurately. This will help avoid any further delay.
- Don’t rely on the fasttrack service – there are often no appointments available
- Check the entry requirements for the country where you are travelling – you might need a passport with six months of validity left to enter.