I have had many constituents contact me over the last few weeks regarding the delays there have been to their passport applications. I very much sympathise with the concerns of my constituents, who are affected by the increase in waiting times by HMPO. I offer my apologies to any constituents who’s travel plans have been affected by these delays and encourage them to contact me if they have concerns about their applications.
I have made this clear to my colleagues at the Home Office and was pleased to receive an update this morning which I have pasted below. It is good news that they are continuing to hire more staff to deal with the backlog in applications, as well as hiring more staff in their contact centres.
This letter includes a list of frequently asked questions- which I hope addresses the concerns of my constituents who are looking for more information and advice regarding the current situation and their own passport applications.
TO: ALL MPs
14 June 2022
Passport services update
Due to the impact of COVID-19 and the return of international travel without restrictions, an
unprecedented 9.5 million British passport applications are forecast to be made this year
against a normal demand of around 5 million a year.
In response to feedback from colleagues about an increase in enquiries from constituents
about their passport application, I wrote to you on 11 May to provide some information
about the work being done to help ensure people continue to receive their passport in
good time for their hard-earned holidays.
As we move closer to the summer holidays, I thought it would be helpful to provide an
update on progress made to help support passport customers.
Her Majesty’s Passport Office staffing numbers have continued to increase, with 650
people now having been added since April 2021, and work continues to add a further 550
across the summer. This has vastly increased capacity, and applications are being
processed in record numbers. Between March and May, the processing of approximately
three million passport applications was completed. We have now processed more
passports this year, by the end of this month, than we did in the whole of 2021.
The increase in demand has also seen a rise in the number of people seeking to use the
urgent passport services, which has inevitably resulted in the appointments being booked
quickly. To help cater for those who need to urgently travel, the recent opening of a public
counter in Birmingham has provided a substantial uplift in appointment capacity.
We understand you have faced difficulties and delays while contacting the MP hotline. We
have increased staffing in this area and continue to seek opportunities to improve the
service provided. Together with clearing pathways for your queries to escalate your
You will have noted from my earlier letter; Teleperformance, who operate the Passport
Adviceline, were not achieving the required standard. Officials have worked with them
constructively towards a rectification plan, and through the addition of more than 500 staff
since mid-April, their performance has improved significantly.
However, there is still more work to do to meet the required standard and ensure
constituents can access the information they need about their application. Regular
meetings continue to take place between senior Home Office officials and their peers at
Teleperformance to ensure the required standard is reached as quickly as possible.
The interventions to help cope with this unprecedented demand for passports, combined
with the fantastic efforts of HM Passport Office’s hard-working and knowledgeable staff, is
working. Between March and May, over 90% of applications made from the UK were
completed within six weeks, and approximately 98.5% of applications from the UK were
completed within the ten-week published processing time.
However, while the number of people who have not received their passport within ten
weeks is a tiny percentage, I do recognise this means you have constituents who will have
waited longer at no fault of their own. I know there have been some difficulties in receiving
prompt updates to your enquiries on behalf of your constituents. Since I last wrote to you
on this matter, the number of HM Passport Office staff supporting the MP hotline, and
offering in-person surgeries at Portcullis House, has steadily increased. This will be
monitored to ensure these services to colleagues continue to improve.
I should note we would welcome the support from colleagues to ask constituents to make
applications for their passports in good time and if there are concerns to contact the
advertised Passport Adviceline where they can discuss any options available to get their
passport sooner. By doing so we can ensure urgent and compassionate cases are able to
be dealt with appropriately and customers are not left waiting any longer than necessary
for their Passport to be issued. Further detail on what are urgent and compassionate
grounds are continued in the frequently asked questions below.
Kevin Foster MP
Minister for Safe and Legal Migration
PASSPORTS – Frequently asked questions
Q. I am having difficulties contacting the Passport Adviceline. How can I speak to someone
about my application?
It has been made clear to the provider of the Passport Adviceline, Teleperformance, that current
waiting times are unacceptable. In response, they are in the process of bringing in more than 500
full-time equivalent staff members as part of plans to bring the Adviceline, e-mails, and callbacks,
within the service standard as quickly as possible. The Passport Adviceline (0300 222 0000) will
therefore continue to be the best way for constituents to access help with their application.
Q. Why are some passports issued more quickly than others?
HM Passport Office will always endeavour to process applications as quickly as possible. For the
simplest of cases that require fewer manual interventions these may be processed much more
quickly, with over 90 per cent of cases being completed within six weeks between January and
March of this year.
Q. The passport website said it would take five weeks when I applied. Why is it now saying
up to ten weeks?
Since April 2021, passport customers have been advised that it takes up to ten weeks to process a
passport application. Until recently, Her Majesty’s Passport Office published additional guidance
showing the typical processing times for applications that had been completed in the previous
week. However, in response to customer feedback that indicated these timeframes were being
confused with the need to allow up to ten weeks, this additional guidance is no longer published.
Q. When does the ten weeks start?
Constituents should allow up to ten weeks from the date that any supporting documents requested
by HM Passport Office are physically delivered. All time taken after this delivery date, which
includes the updating the application tracker, is included within the ten-week timeframe.
Q. My application has taken longer than ten weeks. What can I do?
The ten-week timeframe is not guaranteed, as a British passport will only be issued once all
checks upon the application have been satisfactorily completed. However, where a UK-based
customer has waited more than ten weeks and can evidence that they are due to travel within the
next fortnight, HM Passport Office will prioritise their case. Constituents in these circumstances
should contact the Passport Adviceline (0300 222 0000).
Q. I’ve already applied, but less than ten weeks ago. Is there anything I can do to get my
passport more quickly?
If a constituent has already applied, they should not book an appointment for an urgent service.
This creates a duplicate application and may mean it takes longer for them to get their passport.
Constituents travelling in the next two-weeks should contact the Passport Adviceline (0300 222
0000). If there are any options available to get the passport more quickly, these will be discussed
when they call.
Q. I’m trying to book an urgent service, but there are never any available. Is there a problem
with the system?
Appointments for urgent services are released three weeks in advance. While this means new
appointments are released on a daily basis at each of the seven public counters, in busy periods
these will be booked quickly.
Q. I haven’t received confirmation of my appointment booking, but the fee has been taken.
Do I need to book again?
If a constituent has not received their appointment confirmation, they should contact the Passport
Adviceline (0300 222 0000) who will make the arrangements to confirm that booking.
Q. I need my passport urgently on compassionate grounds. What should I do?
HM Passport Office prioritises people who need a passport urgently on compassionate grounds.
• The serious illness of the constituent, or because of the death or serious illness of their
family member or a friend
• The constituent’s urgent medical treatment abroad which cannot be delayed, or if they are
a carer for someone with urgent medical treatment abroad The constituent should call the
Passport Adviceline (0300 222 0000) in these circumstances. They will be asked to provide
evidence of their need to travel on compassionate grounds to be able to access this
Q. I received a message to say that my passport was issued, but it’s not yet been delivered.
Are there delays?
There are no delivery delays. HM Passport Office has worked closely with its UK delivery supplier
TNT, and passports are being delivered within the required service level. To provide extra
resilience to meet demand, it has also brought in DHL and Royal Mail to ensure passports and
supporting documents are delivered on time to customers. From the point the application is
approved it can take a few days to print the passport, and then to transfer this to the delivery
provider. The delivery provider will contact your constituent when the passport is ready for delivery.
Q. If a constituent asks for advice on what is the best option to apply what should I tell
The best option, if they cannot book an urgent service appointment, is to apply online if possible,
ensuring they check their photo meets the requirements before submitting it. As mentioned before
in January to March 90% of applications were dealt with in 6 weeks or less, but this time frame
cannot be guaranteed in individual cases
Q. What should I be telling my constituents if they need a new passport?
Apply online if you can, use a good quality photo with a photocode, and respond to any requests
for more information promptly.