The Passport Office has admitted that one in every 10 passports is taking more than six weeks to process. This is double the pre-pandemic processing time and it says that the situation is not likely to improve before 2023.
While many passports are being processed within two to three weeks, others are taking even longer than 10 – the Passports Office has confirmed that there are still more than half a million applications outstanding.
So, what can you do if you’re waiting for missing/delayed passports?
The Passport Office provides an expedited service for applicants who can prove they are due to travel within the next two weeks.
Those who have proof of imminent travel will have their applications prioritised. However, you must have applied for passports at least 10 weeks in advance. All those who meet this criteria are best supported and prioritisation works in the order of the date of the travel.
While this sounds like a good solution, to get your application expedited, you will need to get through to the Passport Advice Line on 0300 222 0000, which is almost constantly jammed or many have reported waiting on the line for hours and then being cut off.
You might have more luck getting through to the Passport Office via its webchat service, which is available from 8 till 8 on weekdays and from 9-5.30pm at weekends and public holidays – but this has also been swamped and advisors are rarely available.
You can also submit an online enquiry and you should get a response within 72 hours, although users have told us that their messages have gone unanswered.
Is there anything else you can do if your passport has been delayed?
Believe it or not contacting your MP could be an option as
MPs have a dedicated hotline they can use to contact the passport office and expedite individual passport applications.
Some will only intervene in genuine emergencies, such as if you need to travel for a wedding or funeral, but others seem prepared to hop on the line to prevent constituents from missing their holidays.
MPs are also swamped so it’s best to only contact them after exhausting all other options and within two weeks of travel.
If they agree to try to expedite the application, you need to be prepared to pick up the passport in person from a local depot.
If all else fails…
Applicants who applied at least six weeks ago and who are due to travel within 48 hours can go to their nearest passport office with proof of travel and their passport should be printed the same day, assuming it is already being processed. You might have to pay a fee of around £100, unless they’ve been waiting 10 weeks or more, and you will almost certainly have to queue for a while, but you should receive your passport.
Note that applicants don’t need to go to the passport office dealing with their application, they can go to their nearest passport office if that’s closer, which can request a transfer of their documents.