British travellers forced to cancel holidays after passport delays of four months

Britons hoping to make use of the easing of travel restrictions to head abroad on holiday are coming up against another stumbling block – severe delays at the passport office.

Those who need to renew or get a new passport are finding wait times so long that they are in danger of missing trips booked before lockdown even started.

The average time to get new documents is currently double that of pre-coronavirus, leaping from three to six weeks.

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However, many prospective travellers are reporting much longer wait times of more than four months.

The Passport Office has also suspended its premium fast-track services for all but the most urgent cases – for example, those who need to travel for compassionate reasons, rather than frustrated holidaymakers.

Matthew Hall, a transport clerk based in Dudley, told The Telegraph: “It’s beyond frustrating and they could at least keep people in the know.

“I’m set to lose over £3,000, and I’m a key worker who could seriously do with a holiday.”

He has been waiting 142 days for a first adult passport, which he applied for on 28 February in preparation for a trip to Mallorca departing in August.

Paul Hanley has been waiting 143 days for his child’s passport, while Katy Bishop, from the Isle of Wight, has been waiting more than 100 days after applying to renew her passport and get a new one for her four-year-old son.

The family is due to fly to Gran Canaria on 13 August, but fear they might end up being grounded by the delay.

The UK Passport Office currently states: “It is taking longer than usual to process applications because of coronavirus (COVID-19). Do not apply unless you’re travelling before September 2020 or you need a passport urgently for compassionate reasons.”

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