Coronavirus: passport renewals will be accelerated due to backlog

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UK passport applications delayed by a backlog caused by the coronavirus pandemic will be speeded up if people have to go on vacation within two weeks, the Home Office said.

Passport renewals will be issued within five days for people who wait longer than four weeks and show proof that they need to travel.

Over 400,000 documents are still being processed due to downsizing.

Officials say they will also continue to prioritize emergencies.

They said more than 6,500 passports were issued to people on humanitarian and emergency grounds during the lockdown.

The passport office said it recognized that a growing number of people who did not meet “urgent and compassionate criteria” would like to get their passports faster, as international travel restrictions continued to decline, “especially those who had pre-existing reservations ”.

It comes after the UK government said more than 50 countries – including many popular vacation spots – now pose “reduced risk” of coronavirus.

But people who wish to go on vacation abroad are warned not to book trips unless they have an up-to-date passport. Those who do not yet need to renew their passport are advised to wait until the end of the summer.

Earlier this week, the Home Office revealed that passport staff were working on 126,000 applications, of which 284,000 remained to be processed.

Ministers said the backlog has built up because passport offices have fewer workers due to social distancing rules.

The passport office said security checks meant the process would take longer for first-time passport applicants, but staff “were working hard to make sure anyone with a planned trip didn’t not miss if his passport application was submitted correctly and on time ”.

He added that candidates abroad who had experienced delays and had to apply to the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Commonwealth for emergency travel documents could apply for a refund.

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