Passports can now finally be retrieved and dusted off after months of Britons being unable to travel anywhere. However, some people may discover their passport has expired during lockdown. You will not be able to travel without a valid passport so a renewed document is all-important.
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Unfortunately, many British travellers are facing huge delays in getting their new passport back.
According to new figures, a backlog of more than 400,000 passport applications has accumulated due to disruption caused by the coronavirus crisis.
Some Britons have even been forced to cancel their holidays after their passport took too long to be returned to them.
Home Office minister Baroness Williams has said the huge delays are the result of reduced staffing at HM Passport Office.
This is due to social distancing measures in place.
The limited staff could see Britons waiting longer than the usual three weeks for their passport.
However, she said that as travel restrictions are eased, capacity will be increased.
In a written Parliamentary answer about the backlog, Baroness Williams said HM Passport Office “continues to operate at reduced staffing levels so its people can continue to socially distance.”
She continued: “It is therefore taking longer than usual to process passport applications.
“As part of its contingency arrangements, HM Passport Office is rapidly increasing its capacity for processing passport applications, in line with public health guidance, which will help to ensure it continues to meet the travel needs of its customers.”
The online government passport advice states: “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.”
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They also warn of the huge risks of booking a holiday if you have not renewed your passport.
“Do not book travel until you have a valid passport – doing so is at your own risk,” the Home Office states.
“Your new passport will not have the same number as your old one.”
Anyone applying for a passport now will receive the new blue post-Brexit passport.
It costs £75.50 to renew or replace your passport if you apply online or £85 if you fill out a paper form.
You must be aged 16 or over (or turning 16 in the next three weeks) if you want an adult passport.
There’s a different process to get a passport for a child.
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