Holidaymakers have 50% chance of getting passports renewed in 'timely' manner, research says

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Holidaymakers have a 50% chance of getting their passports renewed in a “successful and timely” manner, according to new figures.

Passport delays are hampering holiday plans for many Brits hoping to travel abroad this year and the Centre for Economic and Business Research (Cebr) has warned the delays will cost £1.1 billion in cancelled trips this summer.

The Cebr estimated the delays equate to a 5.4% loss of total yearly income for two adults working on the average UK annual salary.

After two years of restrictions, this year is the first summer where UK travellers will not be required to take a Covid test either before departure or on arrival.

But the Cebr estimated a 50% probability of a “successful and timely” passport renewal process for travellers based on current reports.

“Data from the VisitBritain Covid-19 Consumer Sentiment Tracker shows that more than two in five are planning an overseas trip in the coming 12 months,” it said.

“Assuming that passport holders are somewhat more likely to have travel plans than the population as a whole and that a quarter of those will have made a booking leaves just under one million holiday makers at risk due to the delays.”

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There have been warnings of cancelled holidays due to delays in processing applications as demand recovered from the pandemic, with the passport office advising travellers to apply 10 weeks in advance.

Further rules for UK passport holders travelling to the EU after Brexit are adding to the demand for new passports.

Passports must be less than 10 years old on the day you enter the EU and your passport must be valid for at least three months after the day you plan to leave.

The number of valid UK passports fell by more than 2.5 million during the first two calendar years of the Covid-19 pandemic as people delayed applications.

A total of 48.9 million passports were in circulation at the end of last year – 2.6 million fewer than at the end of 2019.

This is an abrupt change from the period before the pandemic, which had seen passport numbers rise from 50.0 million in December 2017 to 51.5 million two years later.

The figures were obtained from the Passport Office through a freedom of information request.They show that an average of 559,000 UK passports were printed each month in 2019, but this dropped to 329,000 in 2020 and recovered only slightly to 402,000 in 2021.

Some 967,000 passports were printed across November and December last year, however.

Last week, a senior government source said Prime Minister Boris Johnson was ready to “privatise the arse” out of the passport office.

Home Office minister Kevin Foster said anyone heading overseas this summer should submit passport applications as soon as possible.

He added the government is “confident” it will not need to extend the 10-week target for processing requests.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “These are unverified and nonsensical figures which are not grounded in reality and to treat them as credible is completely ridiculous. For example, unlike their bogus claims over 90% of applications completed in January-March of this year were processed in six weeks.

“The vast majority of passport applications are being processed within the ten week service standard we have had in place, and clearly advertised, since April 2021. Anyone who needs to renew their passport ahead of the summer, is encouraged to do so now.”