Foreign holidays still illegal but citizens ‘urged not to delay’ passport applications

Government says those requiring a new document should get online ASAP

Credit: Open Government Licence v3.0/Crown Copyright

The government has encouraged citizens to quickly go online and submit their passport applications – despite all overseas holidays remaining illegal.

HM Passport Office announced this week that “people [are] urged not to delay in applying for a British passport” as processing may take longer than usual, and a wait of 10 weeks should be allowed for. The agency will even be sending out text-message reminders to those whose documents are nearing their expiry date.

“Applying online is the cheapest and easiest way to obtain your passport,” it added.

Such encouragement comes despite the fact that travelling out of the country for leisure purposes will remain against the law until at least 17 May. Even once restrictions are lifted, travel will be governed and restricted by a list in which countries are rated using a traffic-light system of red, amber, and green.

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“It is too early to predict which countries will be on which list over the summer,” the government said. “Our decisions will be driven by the evidence available at the time. As such, we continue to advise people not to book summer holidays abroad.”

But for anyone that might soon need to travel for work – or is determined to head to sunnier climes, come what may – “it is vital those who may need to apply for a new passport do so now”, said HMPO director general Abi Tierney.

“If you have delayed renewing your passport or are applying for the first time, please apply now so you can receive it in good time,” she added. “Our dedicated staff work tirelessly to ensure that passport applications are processed as quickly as possible. This new advice will help to ensure that we continue to meet the travel plans of our customers during any period of the very highest passport demand.”

Last year, perhaps unsurprisingly, saw a steep decline in passport applications; four million people applied for a new travel document in 2020, compared with a typical yearly total of about seven million.


Sam Trendall

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