Passport renewal has been put on pause during the coronavirus pandemic. The Passport Office, which issues the key travel document, is only operating in a limited capacity. Now there are concerns that many Britons won’t be able to travel abroad when lockdown is lifted as their passport won’t be in date.
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The Passport Office normally issues more than five million passports a year.
However, it has drastically reined in operations since lockdown on March 24.
The UK government currently advises against anything but “essential” travel.
Currently, only documents that are needed for urgent reasons will be issued.
The Passport Office explains online: “It is taking longer than usual to process applications because of coronavirus.
“Do not apply unless you need a passport urgently for compassionate reasons, for example if a family member has died, or for government business.
“Phone the Passport Adviceline to find out what to do.”
It’s estimated that approximately 500,000 passports expire each month.
This means the pause in operations could leave more than a million Britons without a valid passport.
In turn, this could see them unable to travel when lockdown ends.
Families could be particularly badly hit by this.
Passport for Britons under 16 only last for five years in comparison to 10 years for adults.
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In pre-coronavirus times, passports applications “should take three weeks,” said the FCO.
However, applications are now “taking longer than usual.”
Normally, for those who are willing to pay extra, Premium and Fast Track services are available.
However, these have been suspended for the time being.
It is not known when they will be re-available.
The government warns against booking a holiday if your passport is expired.
“Do not book travel until you have a valid passport – doing so is at your own risk,” they said.
A Home Office spokesperson told The Telegraph: “Her Majesty’s Passport Office is continuing to process standard passport applications, but they are taking longer than usual as a result of changed working practices designed to keep both staff and customers safe.
“We are prioritising those who need our services most, especially applications for compassionate reasons. We would encourage those who can to apply at a later date.”
Express.co.uk has also contacted the Home Office for further comment.
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