‘Shambolic’ passport delays threaten millions of summer holidays, ministers warn
Millions of people across the UK face cancelled summer holidays because of huge delays in processing passports, ministers have warned.
Five million people delayed renewing their passports during the pandemic which has caused an unprecedented demand since Covid restrictions have been lifted.
Adding to the pressure is post-Brexit travel rules from the EU, requiring people to have at least three months validity remaining when travelling to EU member nations.
MPs are urging those looking to travel to get in their passport applications quickly and criticised the Passport Office for repeatedly missing a ten-week target to process applications.
What have government ministers said?
MPs have accused the Passport Office of overseeing an "absolute shambles" and said the situation was foreseeable.
They said constituents were cancelling holidays, missing funerals and rearranging trips because of the delays, The Times reported.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps slammed airlines for their recent flight cancellations and urged them to get "reliability back into the system again" before the peak summer season.
Stuart McDonald, the SNP’s home affairs spokesman, said: “All our constituents are having to cancel holidays, miss funerals, rearrange visits, with even a new ten-week target routinely being failed.
"What will be done to avoid this predictable mess getting worse?”
He added: "And can we be assured that the ten-week target will not be lengthened further as we approach the summer?”
Meanwhile immigration minister Kevin Foster urged people planning to travel to get applications in as soon as possible.
Mr Foster said: “We dealt with a million passport applications last month alone.
"To put that into context, we usually deal with seven million in a whole year."
What has the Passport Office said?
The Passport Office has blamed a surge in demand after travel boomed at the end of lockdown and increasing amounts of people are now booking their summer holidays.
Post-Brexit travel rules are also claimed to be adding to the pressure.
The new rules require UK citizens to have at least three months validity remaining on their passports.
How have people been affected?
A family missed their £3,000 holiday to Portugal due to a passport mistake, while Mum Nina Gurd was unable to board her flight with her husband John and three sons after being told her passport was not valid because it expired next month.
Earlier this month, mum Ana Tiganescu was forced to leave her son at a Ryanair check-in after a confusing passport rule ruined their holiday.
Last year, a 67-year-old lost her £2,600 dream holiday because of the new passport rules.
Meanwhile Abi Campbell was stopped from boarding her flight back to Glasgow from Tenerife after thinking her passport was valid.