Pandemic passport chaos: Millions put summer plans on hold amid ‘virtually unprecedented’ backlog to meet post-Brexit target
A “virtually unprecedented” surge in applications for passports after the pandemic has put millions of people’s summer holiday plans in the balance.
The country has been urged to get new applications in as “quickly as possible” to meet post-Brexit rules about passport validation, requiring at least three months remaining before being able to renew.
This comes after the government was accused of presiding over an “absolute shambles” in parliament on Monday, with MPs saying the new 10 week target for processing was being constantly broken.
MPs cited constituents’ stories about cancelling holidays and having to miss funerals abroad, with one mother waiting five months since submitting an application.
Immigration minister Kevin Foster said according to the Times: “We would advise people this is a very — virtually unprecedented — surge in demand, and if people are planning to travel this summer we would advise them to get their application in as soon as possible.”
Transport secretary Grant Shapps also told Times Radio that there were concerns about flight cancellations, with airlines having underestimated demand
According to the Passport Office, the delay was due to millions putting off their applications during the pandemic, and a problem with courier firm TNT, which has a £77m deal to deliver the documents.
The SNP’s home affairs spokesman Stuart McDonald spoke about constituents who “are having to cancel holidays, miss funerals, rearrange visits, with even a new ten-week target routinely being failed.
Foster responded the government had “dealt with a million passport applications last month alone. To put that into context, we usually deal with seven million in a whole year.”
An HM Passport Office spokesman told the Times: “We urge people who need a new passport to apply for one as soon as possible and we do offer urgent services for applicants who need a passport more quickly.”