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Friday, May 27, 2022

'Nightmare' Holidaymakers travel hundreds of miles to queue for new passports

Travel'Nightmare' Holidaymakers travel hundreds of miles to queue for new passports

Although tourists have appointments booked at government buildings, delays have often meant they haven’t been seen for hours after the scheduled times. It is estimated around five million people in the UK delayed applying for a new passport during the coronavirus pandemic – and the huge backlog means people are struggling to get a passport in time for their travels.

And there are only seven Passport Customer Service Centres dotted around the UK, one of which is based in Liverpool.

Some people have travelled hundreds of miles to queue for miles there, including Ellie Smith who is due to travel to Greece in two weeks’ time.

The student, who has been waiting nearly three months for her passport to be processed, told Liverpool Echo: “I’ve been so stressed I haven’t been sleeping. I can’t concentrate at work or at uni.”

Chloe Dyer, who travelled from South Yorkshire, is also meant to be flying to Greece. She said: “We’ve had a hard time as a family recently and I’m worried we won’t get our holiday. It’s my kids I feel for.

“I think people upstairs won’t come down to speak to us because they don’t want to face what is waiting for them down here.”

The mum said if she couldn’t get a passport she’d lose all the money she’d spent on the holiday.

The other centres – in Belfast, Durham, Glasgow, London, Newport and Peterborough – are also very busy due to the backlog, and because of rule changes imposed after Brexit. They mean people’s passports must be less than 10 years old to travel to certain countries in the EU. They also need three months left on their passport from the date of travel.

The fast-track service to get a new passport costs £142 for an adult so, with fuel costs, people are spending hundreds to be able to travel.

Lydia Hodgson, 24 and from Liverpool, said her passport had been mistakenly reported as lost or stolen. She had travelled from Manchester to Paris to Luton within 24 hours and had spent around £2,000 to do so.

She’d also been queuing in Liverpool for hours. She said: “I’d basically go anywhere to get an appointment at this point! I’d travel to Glasgow in a heartbeat if an appointment became available.”

Pauline Rens, from Ormskirk, Lancashire, also said she’d be willing to go to Glasgow. The 65-year-old woman is meant to be going on a cruise to the canaries this week.

She had been waiting to get a passport for her son, who hadn’t realised his passport was out of date, since the office opened at 9am.

She said: “It’s so annoying. People just won’t come down to speak to us.”

And Jodie, from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, had travelled nearly three hours after being told to go to the passport office. She said:

“It’s just a nightmare. I’ve been constantly on the phone for weeks and I still haven’t got an appointment.

“People haven’t been getting back to me and as soon as an appointment pops up, it goes straight away.”

A spokesman for HM Passport Office said: “In preparation for the demand for international travel returning, since April 2021 we have published clear guidance that our customers should allow up to ten weeks to get their passport.

“In busier periods, call waiting times will take longer.

“However, we continue to work with our supplier to further recruit and support the effort to return response times closer to normal levels.”

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