British travellers could be left waiting for up to 10 weeks for a new passport this summer, HM Passport Office has warned, after a delay in processing time caused by the pandemic and a recent surge in demand for new travel documents.
Under the revised timeframe, a passport applied for today may not be received until mid-June – one month after the proposed restart of international leisure travel, on May 17. Those hoping for an early summer getaway have been urged to check their paperwork now.
Meanwhile, research by the Post Office revealed that 22 million Britons are unaware of new post-Brexit passport requirements – which includes the need for six months’ validity for most EU getaways. Almost half of holidaymakers risk being caught out by post-Brexit red tape, with the survey revealing that 42 per cent were not aware of new passport validity rules, while 37 per cent of people do not know when their EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) expires.
Just four million people applied for a passport in 2020, compared with around seven million during a ‘normal’ year – suggesting that as travel restrictions lift, the passport delay may worsen.
Rory Boland, editor of consumer magazine Which? Travel, has warned Britons not to get caught out. He said: “The significant drop in the number of people applying for a passport last year means we could see a sudden spike in demand when we can all start travelling again.
“That, and changes due to Brexit, could mean you need to apply for a new passport sooner than you think.”