More passport chaos as couriers lose hundreds of documents and queues at the passport office grow longer

Thousands of passports and key documents were lost by couriers last year, even as the number of passport applications plummeted, according to the daily mirror.

A freedom of information request showed that while only 4,823,620 passports were issued in 2021 (over 6,600,000 were typical before the pandemic), 1,196 were recorded as “lost during courier delivery”.

In 2020, the post office recorded the loss of only 519 passports, almost half the figure for 2021, while in 2019 the figure was 437.

The new figures show that the number of travel documents lost by couriers has risen steadily, even as the number of passport applications has fallen.

Although it will take a few months to record the 2022 figures, it is the latest development in weeks of passport chaos, as hundreds of thousands of Britons wait weeks for their travel documents amid delays and delays.

This spring has seen a surge in post-pandemic passport applications, with the Home Office recently advising tourists to wait 10 weeks or more to return a renewed document. The usual time frame for an adult passport is five weeks.

There are currently some 500,000 applications waiting to be resolved.

Last week, the Home Office’s junior minister, Tom Pursglove, admitted that this 10-week deadline was not “guaranteed”, with many travelers saying they had waited longer.

While answering questions from MPs about passport backlogs in Parliament last week, Pursglove revealed that one in 70 passport applications has been in the system for longer than the 10-week target.

The Home Office, which oversees Her Majesty’s Passport Office, has promised 700 new staff will join the department “by the summer”, but for now it looks like the backlog will continue.

Many tourists have tried to expedite their travel documents by going to their local Passport Office, with visible queues reported outside the local Peterborough office. Others have complained of being on hold for hours after calling to verify their application.

However, yesterday the monitoring website Passportwaitingtime.co.uk reported that waiting times are “going in the right direction”.

According to their multi-source data, the current average waiting time for an adult passport renewal is 23.35 days (or just over three weeks), with a first-time adult passport longer than 36, 45 days (more than five weeks).

A first issue child’s passport takes an average of 38.01 days to arrive, while a renewed child’s passport has an average waiting time of 24.63 days.

A Home Office spokesman said most passport applications were completed within 10 weeks, with the latest figures showing 90 per cent completed within six weeks.

They added: “Between January 1 and July 31, 2021, HM Passport Office shipped more than 3.3 million items to its customers. While unfortunate, less than 0.04% of them were reported to be lost during delivery, with many of those items later recovered.

“The security of our clients’ personal data is of paramount importance and every effort is made to recover lost or misdelivered documents. Once reported, passports are canceled in the system immediately to mitigate the risk of misuse and we continue to work with our delivery partner to develop measures to reduce the amount of loss overall.”

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