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Delays in passport renewals causing ex pat Brits headaches

Now that passports are being processed in the UK rather than at offices around the world British ex-pats can expect to wait up to six weeks to receive a new passport.

Her Majesty’s Passport Office has warned that processing times are “significantly longer” in relation to applications from overseas than those filed by UK residents.

british passportThe reason behind the delays is that all applications for overseas passports are now processed by HM Passport Office in the UK. Previously, overseas applications were handled by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s seven regional processing centres in Düsseldorf, Hong Kong, Madrid, Paris, Pretoria, Washington and Wellington.

The responsibility has been gradually transferred between December 2012 and March 2014. All passports are now handled by a central application processing centre in Liverpool, England.

Generally passports for those living in the UK only take around three weeks to process, renewals for those overseas used to take around four weeks, but new advice states that overseas applicants can expect to wait for six weeks for renewals and up to eight weeks for first time applications.

A spokesman for Her Majesty’s Passport Office said: “We are updating our guidance on estimated processing times for customers who apply for a passport overseas. Applications from overseas can take significantly longer than those made in the UK due to additional security checks.’’

The spokesman added: “We recommend customers do not book travel until they have received their passport”.

As a result, expat applicants are stressing out about passports arriving on time for their summer trips. Nadine Tull, an expat mother living in Doha, was applying for her son’s first adult passport. She said: “I sent my son’s passport for renewal in March, and it took eight weeks for the new one to arrive, with the old one returning a few days later. Luckily we were not in a hurry so we have not been too inconvenienced.”

British passport holders in Hong Kong have also complained of huge delays, with reports of waits of up to three months for a new passport.

Country-by-country advice on applying for a passport from overseas is available at gov.uk/overseas-passports. The cost of renewing a standard adult red 32 page passport is £102.86 including courier fees.

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