Expat Brits in America angry over passport backlog

Published:  14 Mar at 6 PM
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British expats living and working in the USA are increasingly angry about increasing delays in issuing new British passports for their dependants or renewals for themselves.

Passport applications for UK expats living in the USA are handled by the British Embassy in Washington, with the normal delay between application and issuing a mere four to six weeks. However, due to a massive backlog, many applicants are facing an extended wait, causing chaos to business travel and holiday plans.

Those affected are unimpressed by a notice on the embassy’s website apologising for the delay which, it states, can be as long as 10 weeks from the date payment was taken from applicants’ credit cards. One somewhat un-British Briton, to his credit, has had enough and has set up an online petition urging government investigation of the situation.

The author of the petition, Stephen Kemp, is pointing out that, as it often takes six weeks for the embassy to process a card payment, the actual waiting time for a passport could run into four months. He's said that some applicants may be desperately trying to return home due to an unexpected crisis such as a death or serious illness, and others may be committed to starting a new job at a certain time.

Internet fury is increasing, especially on the popular British Expat Forum, where the delays are being called unacceptable and unbelievable. It’s possible, in cases of genuine emergency, to travel on an Emergency Travel Document, but the pass is only available in person from a British Embassy, and the USA is a very large country.

A spokesperson for the UK’s Identity and Passport Service told the media that the delays, also being experienced in Dusseldorf, are isolated incidents due to increased demand. He offered his apologies, but matters will not have been helped by his assurances that all other British embassies are working within the usual turnaround times.
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Comments » There is 1 comment

Alex Alexander wrote 4 years ago:

Final time line: Renewal Online application: April 30th Old passport and declaration mailed: May 2nd Documents received at Durham: May 9th Application being processed: May 12th Date of issue (from inside passport): May 24th Dispatched: May 27th Passport arrived in Texas via DHL: May 29th.

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