Families have been forced to cancel holidays because of delays of up to four months to process their passport applications, according to The Telegraph.
The newspaper said some travellers have had to wait as long as 143 days for their passport requests to be completed.
The passport office’s premium fast-track service and face-to-face interviews needed for first passports are suspended because of coronavirus restrictions.
The Telegraph reported: “The average time taken to process applications remains double pre-Covid times even though the government attempted to re-energise foreign holidays two weeks ago by lifting the ban on non-essential travel to 70 destinations and creating ‘air bridges’ to popular holiday spots.”
The newspaper detailed examples of families who have had to cancel trips or delay seeing relatives because of the lengthy waiting times.
The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) has attacked Passport Office bosses for putting its members under “enormous pressure” to return to work before it is safe. It is resisting plans to use a skeleton staff to keep offices working until 10pm, added the Telegraph.
A website called Passport Waiting Time, using crowd-sourced data, shows it is averaging 42 days for a first adult passport, 31 days for a first child’s passport, 27 days for a child’s renewal and 22 days for an adult’s renewal.
Andy Anderson, who set up the website two years ago, said the delays were compounded by inconsistencies where some applicants were processed in days while others had to wait months.
The passport office says on the gov.uk website: “It is taking longer than usual to process applications because of coronavirus (COVID-19). Do not apply unless you’re travelling before September 2020 or you need a passport urgently for compassionate reasons.
“Passport interview services are temporarily unavailable because of coronavirus (COVID-19). If you need an interview, your application will be put on hold. If you need a passport urgently, for compassionate reasons (for example if a family member has died) or for government business, phone the Passport Adviceline.”
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