Passport delays exceeding 10 weeks have affected many including Scott Gavin, who is on his seventh attempt trying to go abroad and is now pinning his hopes on an Easter break
Image: Scott Gavin)
A family who had already canceled six holidays due to the pandemic has had their planned Easter break to the Canary Islands scuppered due to long passport waiting times.
Hundreds of people have complained on social media after waiting months for a new passport. Normally passports processed via online applications take between five and six weeks, according to gov.uk.
But on Monday 4 April, the Passport Office tweeted: “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 of those impacted was dad-of-six Scott Gavin from Kirby, the Liverpool Echo reports.
Scott sent off five passports for renewal in November – hoping that his wife Leanne and him would be able to take their children to Fuerteventura in January as a Christmas present.
It would have been the first time the family had been abroad in three years, as the pandemic has forced them to cancel six other trips away.
Initially they received four passports back, but as the departure date grows closer, they are still awaiting the fifth.
Scott said: “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.”
He photocopied the necessary details via recorded delivery, but several days later was told they had not been received by the office. A week later, the same excuse was given, and then he was told 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.”
The family booked a holiday to Majorca for Easter Sunday, in a final attempt to get away for what willl be their “last big family holiday” due to Scott’s mum being unwell.
But as of Wednesday, the fifth passport had still not arrived.
Scott said: “It’s ridiculous, absolutely shocking. 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 son or daughter-in-law because we can’t leave him alone. He’s 15 but has additional needs so has the mindset of a seven-year-old.
“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 heartbroken if he 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.”
Even though officials warned about a 10-week delay, several people are reporting longer waits, leading to more holiday cancellations.
But after speaking to the Echo, Scott was contacted by the Passport Office who confirmed the remaining passport will be delivered just in time for the Easter break.
A HMPO spokesperson told the Echo: “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.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.