Increasing Passport Renewal (Christopher Furlong / Getty)
With international travel returning to pre-pandemic levels, the number of travelers has risen in most countries, including Britain, but some 4.5 million British travelers risk canceling their summer holiday abroad due to delays in renewing their passports. .
This problem has become a concern for the British, amid the slowdown of the authorities in resolving this crisis, in connection with the approaching season of travel and foreign holidays. The British Center for Business Economics and Research estimates there is only a 50 per cent chance of a “successful and timely” passport renewal process for travelers based on current reports. He adds that he has received data showing that more than two in five are planning a trip abroad in the next 12 months.
And a think-tank study announced a few days ago that British holidaymakers, who are struggling to get passports to enjoy holidays away from Britain, are expected to lose 1 1.1 billion ($ 1.3 billion) due to the cancellation of their holiday.
Families are expected to lose around 00 2400 each if they fail to obtain valid travel documents in a timely manner. On the other hand, the Interior Ministry responded to estimates showing that millions of holidaymakers may have to cancel flights this summer as a result of delays in handling passports.
The Passport Office, an agency under the Ministry of Interior, advised travelers to submit applications at least 10 weeks before the planned date of travel. Apparently, most people still believe that the period for renewing and issuing a passport is as fixed as it was before the pandemic, when it usually took about three weeks from the date of application.
In this context, the government said there was an unprecedented increase in applications after the removal of the coronavirus restrictions, because five million people delayed the renewal of their passports during the pandemic in 2020 and 2021. According to EU travel rules after Brexit British passports must be valid for at least three months, risking further pressure on the system.
According to Schengen area rules, the passport must be returned within less than 10 years on the day of entry into its territory and valid for at least three months after the day the visitor plans to leave. However, the quarterly rule applies to some non-EU countries, such as Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the public deserved a “cheaper and faster” passport service after refusing to rule out privatization if it failed to cope with the remaining burden. Travelers complained that even after agreeing to renew their passports, they had not received them for months.
The issue has received a lot of coverage in the press recently, as people have faced holiday cancellations or change of travel plans due to passport waiting times. In addition, people reported waiting more than two weeks trying to contact the passport office and requesting emergency calls.
“I could not travel with my cousin to Budapest (Hungary) last weekend, to celebrate the farewell evening, due to this delay in passport renewal and I had no idea about it until I started the renewal procedures.” says Edward (18) in his interview with Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.
He added that when he tried to renew his passport according to the “fast track”, he did not get an appointment quickly and was told that the appointments are limited due to great pressure in the service. Edward adds that a friend accompanying his cousin found out just one day before the travel date that his passport expires after two months and that the passport takes three months to travel to a European Union country.
But he flew to Luton Airport with friends, very nervous, paying for the trip and accommodation. Everyone was worried and scared that their friend would not be allowed to travel, but they were surprised when security officers let him pass without paying attention to the validity of the passport. And as soon as they boarded the plane they cried for joy, but the other passengers may not be so lucky.
Britons applying for a new passport face problems with the site crashing and millions of people trying to renew their passports at the same time.
The Passport Office expects to submit 9.5 million applications for British passports this year. In March 2022 alone, the Office processed more than one million new passport applications, the highest rate ever. The office explains that the vast majority of passport applications take approximately ten weeks. However, a passport can only be issued after all verifications have been satisfactorily completed and this process takes longer if applications lack information or documents.