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Factsheet: Passport processing times and unprecedented levels of demand

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There has recently been considerable press coverage of people facing holiday cancellations or travel disruption due to waiting times for passports.

We are seeing unprecedented demand, following more than five million people delaying their application for a passport during the pandemic because of restrictions in international travel. Her Majesty’s Passport Office anticipates that up to 9.5 million British passport applications will be made this year (2022).

HM Passport Office is processing more applications than ever before, with the processing of approximately 800k applications being completed on average every month.

Since April 2021, HM Passport Office has been advising people to allow up to ten weeks when applying for their British passport. Between January and July 2022, 96.4% of applications from the UK were completed within 10 weeks.

A passport can only be issued once all the checks have been completed satisfactorily and will take longer if applications are submitted with missing or incomplete information.

What is HM Passport Office doing to meet this increased demand?

HM Passport Office has prepared extensively for this surge in demand and has increased capacity – people and systems – across all elements of the production process. The priority is to ensure we can continue to process as many passport applications as possible.

To do this:

  • We have increased staff numbers by 1,200 since April 2021. In total, as of 1 June 2022 there are over 4500 staff in passport production roles. This has helped us to handle more applications than ever before.
  • Additional staff are being recruited to assist with customer queries on the Passport Adviceline, which is currently run by Teleperformance
  • We have onboarded more delivery companies to ensure passports and supporting documents are delivered on time to customers
  • We have increased availability for fast-track appointments, extending working hours across HM Passport Office’s public counters, and providing further appointment availability at an additional location in Birmingham. New appointments are released daily, three weeks in advance.
  • Where an application from the UK has taken longer than 10 weeks and the customer can evidence that they are due to travel within the next fortnight, then their case will be prioritised at no additional cost.

What can customers do to ensure there are no delays?

We urge people who need a new passport to apply for one as soon as possible to ensure their passport arrives in good time.

Customers can help to ensure there are no delays with their application, such as applying online, and submitting a digital photo using a photo code from a shop or booth.

And it is important to stress, you should not book travel until you have a passport that meets your travel needs.

Where can you go for more help?

*Factsheet updated on 09/08/2022

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