Annual report shows increase in expats and tourists needing passport assistance

Published:  6 Aug at 6 PM
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The number of Britons living or visiting overseas who needed passport help during 2013 rose by around eight per cent, not taking into account the huge number of people affected by the massive passport processing backlog.

The passport backlog itself caused the worst crisis for the British passport office in decades, with hundreds of thousands of unfulfilled applications stacked in boxes awaiting processing. Waiting times of up to and over four months caused ruined holidays, missed family occasions and disrupted business trips.

Blame is being placed on the passport office’s decision to close its international processing hubs in Germany, Spain, France, South Africa, Hong Kong, the USA and New Zealand. Although embassies and consulates issued emergency travel documents and extensions were granted to expired passports, the international chaos is still affecting travel plans.

Far more serious problems may be experienced by expats in Thailand, with delays in receiving their new passports possibly allowing their visas to expire. New immigration rules introduced by the country’s new military government state that visa overstays of more than 90 days will result in deportation and a ban on re-entry for up to 10 years.

Many long-stay expats have Thai wives and children, and are given permission to remain in Thailand via annually-renewable marriage visas. Comments on local expats forums are expressing concerns over excessive delays in receiving passports under the new UK system, and expat pensioners on annual extensions of stay for retirement purposes are adding their worries.
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