A family was forced to cancel a £1,800 Canary Island holiday because a passport took too long to be processed.
Many across the UK have reported that getting a new passport can take up to months of waiting. According to gov.uk, standard waiting times for an online application should take between five to six weeks for the week ending March 20.
Despite this, a tweet from the Passport Office on Monday, April 4 said: “Is your passport due to expire? You’ll need to allow up to 10 weeks to process your passport application when applying from the UK.” One man, in particular, Scott, noted how he and his wife had sent off five passports for renewal with the hopes of going abroad in January to Fuerteventura.
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By early December, they had received four of the five passports back. So a family holiday was booked for their six children’s Christmas presents. They described being “excited” to go on their first abroad holiday in three years – as during the pandemic they face six cancellations.
But, panic began to creep in when the fifth passport still had not arrived. Scott told the Liverpool Echo : “Around mid-December, they said there was a discrepancy against our son’s passport, Robert, because his father’s middle name was not on the passport application. It’s not the first time it had been renewed but I asked why we weren’t notified so it could’ve been sorted.”
After a few days Scott was told by the office that they had not received the details with recorded delivery – he tried again a week later and was once again told the same thing. After the back and forth they were informed the application had been cancelled.
Scott added: “We tried to apply for a fast-tracked new passport but couldn’t because we didn’t get the old passport back so then had to apply via a lost passport and in the end we had to cancel our holiday in January .
“We love spending time away with the kids, it was our first holiday after having six canceled and it was their Christmas present off us. They opened the box with flip flops, sunglasses and the boarding passes and were so excited.
“It just all went to pot, it was an absolute nightmare. I’m like a big kid when I book a holiday, I get the kids wound up, my dad did it and it’s the best feeling in the world but then we had to tell them it was cancelled.”
Afterwards, they hoped to take an Easter break instead with the family booking a holiday to Majorca for Easter Sunday – it would be their “last big family holiday” due to Scott’s mum being poorly. “It’s ridiculous, absolutely shocking,” Scott added.
“It’s a constant fight back and forth. You can’t get an appointment or speak to anyone and they put the phone down on you. This would be my mum’s last holiday as she’s really ill and now she won’t have either one grandson there or all of her grandchildren and sons or daughter-in-law because we can’t leave him alone.
“He doesn’t understand. He’s going to think it’s his fault that we’ve missed out on another family holiday, it’s a nightmare. We tried to get an appointment but told it wasn’t urgent but he will be heart-broken if I can’t go.
“We’ve missed out on a £1,800 holiday in January and had to pay for two passports for one kid when there’s proof we sent the initial details when they first asked. We thought booking in April would give them plenty of time.”
A HMPO spokesperson said: “Due to COVID-19, over 5 million people delayed applying for a British passport throughout 2020 and 2021. In preparation for the demand for international travel returning, we have published clear guidance in place since April 2021 making clear people should allow up to ten weeks to get their passport.
“In busier periods, call waiting times will take longer. However, we continue to work with our supplier to further recruit and support the effort to return response times closer to normal levels.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.