After two years of severe restrictions on travelling abroad, many of us are now booking holidays abroad again.
As confidence returned amongst holidaymakers, so too did the need to apply for and to renew passports.
I needed a new passport myself. After doing my best serious expression for my new passport photo, I applied online and waited.
Unfortunately, the HM Passport Office hasn’t been able to meet the extra demand. Frankly, the service hasn’t been anywhere near good enough.
Earlier this week, Passport Office bosses told MPs that more than 50,000 people have been waiting more than 10 weeks for their passport application to be processed. The total number of outstanding applications is around 400,000. They must get a grip, quickly.
I know first-hand from the number of constituents contacting me asking for help that the possibility of not receiving their passport is certainly not the best start to a long-awaited holiday and travel plans to visit loved ones abroad.
If you are waiting and your case is increasingly urgent or is based on compassionate grounds, I can chase it up with the Passport Office and secure updates for you. That can also save you the trouble of sitting on the phone for several hours in a queue.
To do so, please email me at email@example.com and send your name, date of birth, address, when you applied, when you are going abroad, the PEX reference number, whether it is a renewal or first passport, and your telephone number.
If you’re travelling to Europe, it’s worth being aware that you now need to have a passport that is valid for at least three months when you travel. The passport must also be under ten years old.
The small crumb of good news is that passport applications are now being processed in record numbers. The Passport Office is recruiting more staff to keep meeting this demand.
My advice is still to get your passport application in sooner rather than later. Please get in touch with me if you need help and I’ll do everything I can.
This column first appeared in the Exmouth Journal on Wednesday 27th July 2022 and in the Sidmouth Herald later in the week.