New measures to assist UK expats caught up in passport chaos

Published:  18 Jun at 6 PM
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UK expats caught up in the ongoing passport renewal chaos are being offered easier options as regards the already introduced one-year passport extension.

An announcement by the British Passport Office has confirmed the availability of the free one-year passport extension for all UK citizens living overseas and needing passport renewals. For those living in a majority of overseas locations, a visit to their nearest British embassy will be all that is needed to get the extension, although documentary requirements haven’t yet been listed.

UK consulates may be able to provide the service in countries without British embassies, and emergency travel documents will be fast-tracked without charge where necessary. Parents undertaking urgent travel will be able to apply for emergency travel documents for their children without having to wait for their new 10-year passports to arrive.

An urgent review into the cause of the meltdown has been ordered, and will also consider returning the passport office to control by the Home Office as in previous years. However, for expats living and working in Asia, even the new one-year extension presents its own problems as regards the cost and time of travel to British embassies in various countries’ capitals.

Expat communities in Northern Thailand’s popular cities of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai face either a return flight and overnight stay in Bangkok, a day’s travel by train or an overnight bus trip on dangerous roads. UK retirees on frozen pensions may find air travel too expensive, and may not be able to face a long train or bus journey for health reasons.

Cambodia’s increasingly popular beachside resort, Sihanoukville, is almost two days’ bus travel from Phnom Penh, and flights are few. The UK Embassy in Beijing is responsible for expats in regions including far distant Tibet and, should the British government not allow local consulates to process the one-year extension, expats all across the remoter regions of Asia will continue to suffer due to the crisis.
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Comments » There is 1 comment

S Passfield wrote 5 years ago:

I live in Andorra. My nearest consulate is in Madrid. It is virtually impossible to get any info online or by phone. Eventually I got through to someone (in the UK, not Madrid) who said they would tell the consulate that I needed an appointment urgently as my passport had 2 weeks to run and of course I needed to cross the frontier into Spain to visit Madrid. I heard nothing, could not contact anyone and eventually had to proceed with an online application AFTER my passport had expired. The extension facility is a good idea but totally useless if there is no one with whom to book the necessary appointment. The phone system is designed to send you round in circles and never offers the chance to talk to anyone. Hopeless. I am now trapped in Andorra until my passport reappears, which is inconvenient as most of my business takes place in Spain or France.

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