Her Majesty’s Passport Office (HMPO) is dealing with the highest demand for passports in 12 years and has issued over three million passports so far in 2014. Since January, HMPO has been putting steps in place to deal with the extra demand and the overwhelming majority of people continue to receive their new passports within three or four weeks.
But recognising people’s understandable concerns about delays, the Home Secretary said she is determined to do everything possible, while maintaining the security of the passport, to speed up the system.
Overseas customers renewing an existing passport will be able to apply for it to be extended for 12 months. This will be done by consular staff in the country where they apply and appointments can be made from Monday 16 June. No additional fees will be charged and the security of the passport will not be affected.
Emergency travel documents for children
Parents or guardians of children living overseas who wish to travel to the UK will be able to apply for an emergency travel document in place of a new or renewed passport for their children. This will be available from the week beginning 16 June in all British diplomatic posts that have access to the passport database, subject to checks to confirm nationality and identity.
Upgrades for urgent travel
People in the UK who have an urgent need to travel will be able to upgrade their application without charge. This means that after their application has been through the proper checks, the processing, printing and delivery of their new passport will be fast-tracked for free. To qualify, customers must be booked to travel within the next 7 days and their application must have been with the Passport Office for longer than the standard processing time of three weeks through no fault of their own.
Customers will be asked to provide details – such as flight numbers and travel company – to confirm their travel plans. The ‘urgent need to travel’ upgrade is open to all those who have applied by post from within the UK and who meet the criteria above. Unless there are valid compassionate grounds, this will not apply to adults applying for their first passport, as they still need to attend an interview to confirm their identity. The upgrade is available immediately and can be requested through the Passport Adviceline. It is a temporary change and is not retrospective.