A mum faces losing £1,000 because her son’s passport is still being processed, despite applying for the renewal 12 weeks ago.
Jenny Craig, who lives in London and works in communications, is due to travel to Italy in just under four weeks’ time but fears the holiday may not go ahead. If the family trip with her husband and two children, including son Isaac whose passport she is still waiting on, doesn’t happen, she could stand to lose almost £1,000.
The 43-year-old already had to cancel the family’s holiday to Morocco in the Easter holidays last month. They were able to get a voucher in return for the flights they couldn’t take, and a refund from the hotel they were due to stay.
Unfortunately Jenny’s predicament isn’t a one-off; a million holidaymakers have been warned how huge delays in passport processing could cost £1.1billion in cancelled trips this summer. This is according to new research from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) as the Passport Office continues to advise families to apply 10 weeks’ in advance.
But some people have told The Mirror that they’ve been left waiting even longer than this target, which is set by the Home Office. “We waited until a week before we cancelled our trip to Marrakech… we knew it wasn’t going to happen,” Jenny said. “We are trying to go to Italy in May, in about four weeks’ time. I’m pretty sure it won’t happen.
“If we don’t get confirmation that the passport has been processed by the end of next week, then we’ll assume it won’t happen for us. Getting through to someone has got worse. I calculated that I’ve probably spent two days on hold. Each time I call, there is an average time of an hour and a half on hold. I don’t know how many calls I’ve made now.”
The number of valid UK passports fell by more than 2.5 million during the first two calendar years of the coronavirus crisis. A total of 48.9 million passports were in circulation at the end of last year – 2.6 million fewer than at the end of 2019. The figures were obtained by the PA news agency from the Passport Office through a freedom of information request.
“Data from the VisitBritain Covid-19 Consumer Sentiment Tracker shows that more than two in five are planning an overseas trip in the coming 12 months,” said the Centre for Economics and Business Research.
“Assuming that passport holders are somewhat more likely to have travel plans than the population as a whole and that a quarter of those will have made a booking leaves just under one million holiday makers at risk due to the delays.”
Home Office minister Kevin Foster has previously said anyone heading overseas this summer should submit passport applications as soon as possible. He added the government is “confident” it will not need to extend the ten week target for processing requests.