UK Passport Applications - latest update

By now most of you may have heard the announcement from the British Home Secretary, Teresa May, that Britons living in France whose passports are about to run out, can receive ‘automatic’ extensions.

The new procedures have been brought into play because of the unprecedented backlog of unprocessed applications that the UK passport office is currently struggling to cope with. So how is this actually going to pan out?

The website says that “Overseas customers renewing an existing passport will be able to apply for it to be extended for 12 months. This will be done by consular staff in the country where they apply and appointments can be made from Monday 16 June. No additional fees will be charged and the security of the passport will not be affected.”

Given the prices of passports these days, an ‘extra’ year is not to be sniffed at, so it’s probably well worth a trip to the consulate if you are within reasonable striking distance. However, it will be an expensive day out for those of us who are not and need to travel urgently!

The site also states that, “Parents or guardians of children living overseas who wish to travel to the UK will be able to apply for an emergency travel document in place of a new or renewed passport for their children. This will be available from the week beginning 16 June in all British diplomatic posts that have access to the passport database, subject to checks to confirm nationality and identity.”

Good luck with that one is all I can say. It sounds like a whole new muddle waiting to happen! I haven’t yet been able to find any clarification on the ‘checks’ involved so if anyone does go down this road in terms of trying to get emergency travel documents for their children and can report back, that would be really helpful.

In the meantime, “Happy Holidays” and here’s hoping that if you’ve already sent your passport off to be renewed, it turns up in time.....

My internet application and payment was not difficult at all.

It travelled via Heathrow, Leipzieg, Nantes and Rennes, yet it arrived within 3 weeks.

I think I must have been really lucky. I sent off my renewal off last month using pre complete form on the website on the 20th May and got it back via DHL (who usually can't find our house) on 6 June.

I agree with Dick. My other comment would be that the UK government surely would have a duty of care to at least keep expats informed of their rights and duties, such as continuing voting rights in the UK. After by British wife died here in France in 2007 I registered her death with the British consulate in Paris but I had no idea I was entitled to receive some UK death benefit until many months later when, of course, I had automatically lost a good part of the entitlement as my claim was by then "late". Maybe a "Bereavement Pack" would be a good idea. The consulate does maintain a register of British expats in France, just in case, one supposes, that the Germans invade again and we all have to head for the Channel ports. The arrival of 200,000 Brit expats should do wonders for the UK housing shortage. From here in Brittany expats are going back to the UK to renew their passports as it's cheaper than going to Paris to do it!

That's all very well but the UK Government has been closing Consulates left, right and centre all in the name of reducing costs. So much for their stated "duty of care to British citizens living abroad" as stated on the FCO web site!

I have friends who recently retired from the Diplomatic service and they informed me that this was all about costs and the government's aim to eventually hive the passport service off. Take UK visa applications which now cost a fortune, require a visit at least to a distant part of Paris with dozens of papers including bank account and income tax details. I even had to produce for my non EU wife the original wedding invitation card for my son's UK wedding. We just made it with about two days to spare but the whole process cost us two visits to Paris, an overnight stay, official translation costs et all amounting to nearly 1k euros for a ten day visit to the UK. The whole thing is handled by an American firm who were thoroughly unhelpful. I complained to Cameron, whose secretary is Godmum to my son and got fobbed off with a letter saying May would deal with it but she never contacted me in any way. Now they are fast tracking Chinese tourists but an expat Brit with a British daughter and a non EU mum is put through a painful endurance test. This latest "offer" is scarcely attractive as we would have to go to Paris (round trip 12 hours) to make use of it. We will have to apply for renewal over the winter when we usually have no travel plans, but heavens knows what other travail will emerge in the interim.

We got our son's renewal - but it was clear that they are in a mess - especially the website where you make queries. I had to complain - they had no idea where his passport was and were useless. As it happened it turned up after 5 weeks.

Now they are going partially back to the old system - where we applied to the Consulate. They used to turn them round in about 2 or 3 weeks - they were superb. Why was that changed? To save money of course. Now based in warehouse type places and operated by young cheap people (slaves) with no experience of this kind of thing. Ridiculous.