Passport delays: Watchdog warns against repeat of 2022’s problemson December 9, 2022 at 3:02 am

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Passport services dealt with an “unprecedented demand” as coronavirus travel rules were lifted.

PassportImage source, Getty Images

Hundreds of thousands of people were affected by passport-processing delays and many experienced travel disruptions this year, a watchdog has found.

As coronavirus pandemic travel restrictions were lifted, the Passport Office struggled to keep up with an “unprecedented demand”, said the National Audit Office (NAO).

Some 360,000 customers waited more than 10 weeks to receive their passports in the first nine months of 2022.

A similar demand is expected in 2023.

Whitehall’s spending watchdog has urged the Home Office agency to prepare, as up to 10m applications could be made next year.

Despite preparations, the NAO said there were problems with recruitment, system limitations and unsuccessful efforts to deal with the levels of demand this year.

This contributed to “longer than expected waits”, according to findings published on Friday.

Queues outside the Passport Office

Gareth Davies, the head of NAO, said the Passport Office did process a “record number of applications” but dealing with a higher-than-average demand led to “delays for hundreds of thousands of people”.

This created “anxiety” for people with travel plans and hampered people using passports as forms of identity, he said.

“HMPO must now learn the lessons from this year and prepare for similar levels of demand that are expected in 2023.”

This year, between January and September, more than seven million people applied and 6.9m passports were processed by the HM Passport Office (HMPO). This was a 21% increase compared to the same period in 2019.

In May, more than 1.2m applications were received – with the busiest week seeing 340,000 requests submitted.

However, the NAO said in the first nine months of 2022, 95% of customers did receive their passports within 10 weeks.

The report said about three million passport applications are still expected from people who did not renew or apply during the pandemic – meaning a further 9.8m applications could be seen in 2023.

During the coronavirus pandemic, significantly fewer people renewed or applied for passports and officials did plan for an “expected surge” in applications when travel rules were lifted.

In 2022, the HMPO prepared for 9.5m applications – 36% more than an average year. This was based on the missing number of applications from the previous two years.

The Home Office said the impact to passport services is “not unique to the UK” and it has worked to rectify this.

- Advertisement -

Discover

Sponsor

Latest

Conor Benn and Chris Eubank Jr to fight at London’s O2 Arena in Octoberon August 9, 2022 at 8:39 pm

Conor Benn and Chris Eubank Jr will fight at London's O2 Arena on Saturday, 8 October, almost 30 years since their fathers shared one...

NBA: Luka Doncic scores 60-point triple double as Dallas Mavericks beat New York Knickson December 28, 2022 at 12:10 pm

Watch highlights of Luka Doncic's historic first 60-point 'triple-double' in NBA history, as he helps the Dallas Mavericks earn a 126-121 overtime win over...

Ukraine: Could it join the EU, and how might Russia react?on June 21, 2022 at 11:10 pm

Ukraine hopes to become an official candidate for European Union (EU) membership.Ukraine hopes to become an official candidate for European Union (EU) membership.

We must be careful with language on immigration, minister sayson November 1, 2022 at 9:38 am

Robert Jenrick's comments come after the home secretary described the situation as an "invasion".Image source, Getty ImagesBy Becky MortonBBC political reporterImmigration minister Robert Jenrick...

Levi Bellfield confession to Lin and Megan Russell murders to be analysedon February 7, 2022 at 9:32 pm

Murderer Levi Bellfield's claims he also killed Lin Russell and her daughter Megan will be examined.Image source, PAThe alleged confession from the man who...