Second British passports in demand as Home Office insists on 10-week renewal time

After the home secretary warned travellers that the 10-week processing target for British passports will continue, demand for an additional travel document appears to be increasing.

Suella Braverman told Parliament last week that the government will not reduce the target time – which was extended from three weeks to 10 two years ago, during the Covid pandemic.

She said: “We expect elevated demand for passports throughout the year, so customers should continue to allow 10 weeks, and I urge people to apply in good time, not at the last minute, to avoid delays.”

The insistence to allow 10 weeks means travellers who are making repeated international journeys are struggling to find a spell when they can renew.

Many readers have contacted The Independent to seek advice about passport issues.

A reader with a business trip to the US in late April and a holiday in Europe in early July, who did not wish to be named, said he needed to renew because of the post-Brexit passport rules.

His passport expires early in 2024 but was issued in May 2013 and cannot be used to travel into the EU beyond its 10th birthday.

The reader would not have sufficient time to be sure of a renewal in time, according to the timescale of HM Passport Office.

He could apply for a “fast-track” passport, but this requires finding an appointment for a personal interview. Slots are scarce, with plenty of availability at the passport office in Belfast but fewer appointments at locations in Great Britain.

“I’m not flying to Northern Ireland to compensate for the Passport Office taking an unreasonable time to make a simple renewal,” he said.

Instead, he is applying online for a second British passport. These are issued routinely for people who are required to travel frequently on business or obtain time-consuming visas.

In addition, travellers who have proof in their passport of a visit to countries such as Israel, Kosovo or Libya may be denied entry to other nations. It is standard practice in to issue an additional passport once proof is provided.

The Home Office declined to say how many second passports were issued in 2022 compared with 2019. The Independent has submitted a Freedom of Information request to try to obtain the figures.

A HM Passport Office spokesperson said: “For security reasons the vast majority of people will not be eligible to hold two British passports at any one time.

“If anyone needs their passport back sooner than 10 weeks, they should apply using an urgent passport service.”

The one-week fast track service costs £155 for an adult passport, compared with £82.50 for an online renewal – or second passport.

The Online Premium service, where the renewed passport is handed over at a scheduled appointment time, costs £193.50.

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