Travel column with Katie Butler: UK passport delays, waiting times and how to get it faster

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Busy is an understatement!

Katie Butler writes: If we thought we were manic in the Easter holidays, welcome to the start of the summer holiday season. It seems like every man and his dog wants to get away this summer (me included). The phones are ringing off the hook and the shop is bustling but we are certainly not complaining.

After more than two years of restrictions, it is without doubt what the whole of the travel industry needs. We are finally feeling the buzz of a busy shop once more. Predominantly busier with new bookings than with amendments, cancellations and changes.

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Of course if travel agents and airlines are getting busier, then so are other sectors associated with the industry. This of course includes the passport offices.

UK passport delays. Photo: AdobeUK passport delays. Photo: Adobe
UK passport delays. Photo: Adobe

Through the start of the pandemic many people delayed renewing their passports and many let them expire, not knowing when we may be able to travel again.

Pre-pandemic, renewal times were, as a rule, approximately three weeks.

Now HM Passports are advising of waits of up to 10 weeks.

Along with regular expired passports, the new Brexit rules are also having an impact on the amount of people applying.

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Any extra months given on your passport if you renewed early are no longer valid.

Passports can only be valid for a maximum of 10 years for travel to Europe.

Always check the issue date and count exactly 10 years from the actual issue date and this will give you your true expiry.

Can I get a passport quicker?

There are ways that you are able to get a passport renewal quicker than the standard channels, although you will have to attend an appointment at your nearest passport office.

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One week fast track is a popular option - your new passport will be delivered to your home within one week of your appointment.

This service can be used to: renew an adult or child passport, change your name on your passport (with a marriage certificate or deed poll), replace a lost, stolen or damaged passport, make changes to personal details such as gender and apply for a first child passport.

The cost of this is £142 for an adult and £122 for a child.

Alternatively, at a whopping cost of £177 there is the online premium service which can be used to renew an adult passport.

You apply, book and pay for your appointment online and will receive your new passport in hand at the appointment.

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If you are planning on taking a holiday now or later in the year, we advise you to check your passport validity before you book.

You may hear of people getting their new passport back in only a short amount of weeks.

However, there seems to be no real pattern as to which ones come back sooner and it does appear to be a little bit of “pot luck”.