Passport Office staff union to strike for 5 weeks in April and May
Union strike to impact passport delivery this summer
Passport Office staff are set to strike for five weeks in April and May, which could put strain on the Home Office’s 10-week deadline for processing.
More than 1,000 members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union will walk out in Durham, Glasgow, Liverpool, Newport, Peterborough, and Southport from April 3 to May 5. And staff in the Belfast office will strike from April 7 to May 5.
They are asking for a 10 per cent pay rise as well as job security, and have said this will have a “significant impact” on the delivery of passports this summer.
The Government has said that it cannot afford the £2.4 billion it would cost.
Passport Office under pressure after record applications
The Home Office has come under pressure following a record number of applications in a holiday rush following the Covid-19 pandemic.
The department had previously advised that the 10-week deadline for passports introduced during the pandemic will stay in place, although 360,000 had to wait longer than that framework last year.
In February, Home Secretary Suella Braverman told MPs: “We expect elevated demand for passports throughout the year — and demand can be volatile — so customers should continue to allow 10 weeks. I urge people to apply in good time and not at the last minute.”
When and how to renew your passport?
The news comes after a recent hike in passport fees came into effect on February 2.
Families have started planning their spring breaks and summer holidays — so when do you need to renew your passport, how long does the process take, and how much does it cost?
Here is what we know.
The Government website says: “If your passport is burgundy or has ‘European Union’ on the cover, you can continue to use it until it expires.”
Read the Government’s travel advice for the country you intend to visit, and be sure to check the entry requirements.
If you are visiting a country in the EU or the Schengen area, your passport will need to meet the two requirements listed above.
The Government says that it is awaiting clarification from the European Commission on the 10-year rule, but says: “For some Schengen countries, your passport may need to be less than 10 years old during your whole visit, and the three months at the end of your visit may need to be within 10 years of your passport’s issue date.”
It advises that people check the issue and expiry dates on their passports.
If you renewed your passport early, the extra months added to the expiry date could affect the requirement for the passport to be less than 10 years old.
You have to renew your passport if it has expired or if there is not enough time left on it.
To renew your passport, head to gov.uk/renew-adult-passport/renew. You will need a digital passport photo, a credit or debit card, and your passport.
Up until February 2, renewing your passport cost £75.50 if you were an adult and £49 if you were a child.
However, the recent price rise changed these figures to £82.50 for adults and £53.50 for children.
Alternatively, you can apply with a paper application by either going to the Post Office or calling the Passport adviceline. Renewing your passport this way will cost £93 for those aged over 16 and £64 for kids.
The Home Office advises that travellers give the process up to 10 weeks.
However, if you’re running out of time before your holiday, you can apply to renew your passport urgently.
These timeframes are likely to be interrupted by the Passport Office strike.
How to apply for an urgent passport renewal
You can apply to renew your passport faster if you’re in the UK and need to renew or replace your passport, or obtain a first child passport.
There are two ways to apply for an urgent passport; through the Online Premium service or the “1 Week Fast Track” process.
For the Online Premium service, you need to apply, pay, and book a 30-minute appointment via the Government website.
You will need your old passport, a device that takes digital photos, and a digital photograph of yourself to complete the process.
This urgent service is more expensive — it will cost £193.50, or £204. 50 for a 50-page passport. It is available for people whose passports were issued only after December 31, 2001.
Alternatively, you can also use the “1 Week Fast Track“ service. This service requires you to get a paper application form from a post office, book an appointment and pay online.
You should take your application form, required documents, and two identical printed passport photos to the appointment. The service costs £155 for an adult and £126 for a child.
To speak to someone at the Passport Office for more advice, you can call 0300 222 0000 from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, and from 9am to 5.30pm at the weekend and on public holidays.
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