As countries around the world begin to lift travel bans and restrictions, Britons are gearing up to book a swift trip away. But now many Britons have come to the realisation that any future holiday plans could be in jeopardy due their passports now having expired. The UK government is currently advising Britons against non-essential travel overseas.
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This advice was put in place back in March and has since remained “indefinite”.
Passport operations in the UK are currently halted due to the coronavirus pandemic unless you have a “compassionate reason” or it’s for “government business”.
The HM Passport Office said: “Do not apply unless you need a passport urgently for compassionate reasons, for example, if a family member has died, or for government business.”
However, even though holidays look like they may be back on the cards later this summer, reportedly more than a million passports have expired since lockdown began.
Since the Passport Office changed its policy, it’s unclear how long a passport renewal could take.
One Twitter user said that they sent off their renewals in March but that they were still waiting for a response in May.
The renewal was filled out online and usually only takes a few weeks.
The government website said that it usually recommends a three-week wait for getting a new passport before coronavirus.
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Another person said that they were due to fly in July but that their children’s passports ran out at the end of May.
A Home Office spokesperson told The Independent that passports are taking longer to process than usual.
“Her Majesty’s Passport Office continues 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 would encourage those who can to apply at a later date and, as is always the case, we strongly advise not to book travel without a valid passport.”
Anyone looking to travel to a country that requires visas or more travel documents could be left in an even worse position.
The Passport Office normally issues more than five million passports a year.
However, this number has dramatically dwindled since the coronavirus pandemic began.
It’s estimated that approximately 500,000 passports expire each month.
People trying to get passport renewals for children, which only last five years compared to adult passports that last ten, could also be hit particularly hard but the delays.
Travellers may be even more deterred from holidays this year after the government introduced quarantine rules on Monday.
The new rules state that anyone travelling into the UK from abroad will have to isolate for 14 days in one location.
The travellers must provide the address of where they’re staying to the UK authorities.
The new rules have been criticised by travel firms and airlines.
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