Allow up to 10 weeks for a new passport this summer, says Passport Office

Simon Calder
·2-min read
Time check: passports issued for over 10 years are subject to extra restrictions in the European Union  (Simon Calder)
Time check: passports issued for over 10 years are subject to extra restrictions in the European Union (Simon Calder)

Even if overseas holidays are permitted from 17 May, prospective holidaymakers may find they are waiting four weeks beyond that date for a passport.

HM Passport Office says people should now allow up to 10 weeks when applying for a British passport. Previously the guideline was three weeks.

An application made on 7 April could take up to 16 June 2021.

In 2020 the office issued only four million passports, compared with seven million in a normal year, as international travel collapsed.

At present it is illegal to go abroad except for essential purposes. But with international travel possibly allowed from 17 May, it is feared that a surge in demand could lead to waiting times extending well into the summer.

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The backlog is being exacerbated by complicated new rules on passport validity brought about by Brexit.

Previously British passports were valid up to and including their expiry date. But since 1 January 2021, the government says they must have at least six months to run.

Passports issued for over 10 years are subject to extra restrictions in the European Union.

The director-general of the Passport Office, Abi Tierney, said: “It is vital those who may need to apply for a new passport do so now. If you have delayed renewing your passport or are applying for the first time, please apply now so you can receive it in good time.

“Our dedicated staff work tirelessly to ensure that passport applications are processed as quickly as possible.

“This new advice will help to ensure that we continue to meet the travel plans of our customers during any period of the very highest passport demand.”

The Passport Office will send text messages to people whose passports are nearing expiration to let them know to allow more time when they renew.