Shortly after COVID-19 began to grow exponentially, the U.S. State Department, which is the agency that processes passports in the U.S., closed down all of their offices in an abundance of caution (oh, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that phrase since March…).
With a backlog of applications and renewals approaching 2 million, the offices sslloowwllyy began reopening in June. They’re wading through between 175,000 and 275,000 every week, but also receiving between 100,000 and 150,000 new applications each week, so their progress in getting through the entire pile is…at a snail’s pace.
If you need a passport quickly for a “life or death” situation (i.e., close family member is dying or has passed), that’s potentially possible. Well, IF you can get someone to help you. I’ve read stories about people who have called, emailed, etc. and no one ever got back to them. Expedited service (where you pay more and get your passport back faster) is not available at this time.
But that’s us.
In the United Kingdom? TOTALLY different story. And stuff that we should be envious about.
Passport Envy #1
The U.K. significantly reduced the number of people working from Her Majesty’s Passport Office (HMPO) sites due to coronavirus. However they still operated somewhat and were still available to help those with “life or death” situations (they call it “compassionate and emergency grounds”).
They didn’t wind up with as much of a backlog as us – just 400,000 or so. But although they’re a smaller country (66.65 million), over 50 million of their citizens have passports. In contrast, the U.S. has less than 22 million passport holders, yet we wound up with a backlog of 1.7 million. So they have over twice as many passports out there, but less than 1/4 of the backlog. What’s up with that??? So yeah, there’s passport envy #1.
Passport Envy #2
Now that traveling outside the country is an option for U.K. residents (which it is for us too; our options are just much more limited), the U.K. government realizes that there’s an extreme need to for people to have their passports, and some of them more quickly than others. So they’re not making everyone wait to get their passports back in the order in which they were received like we are.
For U.K. residents who have been waiting for their passports for more than 4 weeks and can show they’re scheduled to travel in the next 2 weeks, HMPO will get their passports to them in 5 working days.
HMPO recognises that an increasing number of people who do not meet the urgent and compassionate criteria will want a passport more quickly as international travel restrictions continue to ease, particularly those with pre-existing bookings.
Therefore, where a UK-based customer can evidence they are due to travel within the next fortnight, and where HMPO has had their application for longer than 4 weeks for renewal applications, it will expedite their application so that it is delivered within 5 working days.
So if you’re in the U.K., had travel scheduled in early-mid August and were still waiting for your passport, HMPO will get it to you in time. Us? Too bad, so sad; you’ll get it when you get it, so cancel that trip to Croatia or the Maldives.
#stayhealthy #staysafe #washyourhands #wearamask
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary