So badly have Covid-19 measures hit the Passport Office, that some families have been forced to cancel their holidays this summer.
The average time taken to process applications is currently around double the pre-coronavirus timescale, but some have been delayed up to four months – forcing cancellations and also making it hard for anyone whose passport is nearing its ten-year expiry date to plan their trips.
Currently waiting times are reported to be averaging 45 days for a first adult passport, 33 days for a first child’s passport, 28 days for a child’s renewal and 23 days for an adult’s. But remember, these are averages and you can’t rely on them. So how do you make sure that you aren’t caught up in the delays?
Here is our checklist.
Do not apply for a new passport or a renewal unless you’re travelling before September 2020 or you need a passport urgently for compassionate reasons.
If you need a new passport, don’t book any travel unless you are sure you will be able to get it back in time for your departure. If it doesn’t arrive and you can’t travel, you may be liable for cancellation charges. These won’t be covered by travel insurance and the Passport Office is not liable for them. If you are booking before your new passport arrives, note that it will not have the same number as your old one.
The Premium and Fast Track services which normally allow you to renew or apply for a new passport in a matter of days are temporarily unavailable because of Covid-19. The only exceptions are being granted for compassionate reasons – the Passport Office gives the example of the death of a family member – or for government business. If you think this applies to you, you can call the Passport Adviceline (0300 222 0000).
Until the end of this year you can travel to any EU country as long as your passport is still in date. After January 1, you will probably need at least 6 months validity left a passport that’s less than 10 years old (even if it has 6 months or more left). But we won’t know the details until the final deal is signed with the EU. The amount of validity required for other destinations varies – check the Foreign Office Advice page for the country concerned (fco.gov.uk).
To renew or replace your passport online costs £75.50 (or £85 if you fill out a paper form) and you must be aged 16 or over if you want an adult passport.
More information: gov.uk/renew.
Have you had trouble securing a new passport? Let us know in the comments box below.