Passport delays of up to 11 weeks after applications spike
A surge of passport applications and delays overseas means that Bermudian applicants face a longer wait, the Government said yesterday.
A spokesman for the Department of Immigration said that the UK Government had confirmed that those who are attempting to obtain Bermuda Overseas Territories Citizen passports could expect delays of up to 11 weeks.
Those applying for UK passports are also expected to face delays.
The spokesman added: “Due to the pandemic and the period of restrictive travel, applications for BOTC Bermuda passports were extremely low.
“Over the past few months, the volume of applications has quadrupled.
“Following a recent spike in clients reporting long wait times to renew passports, the department contacted the UK authorities, who unfortunately confirmed the 11-week time frame.
“If a passport is reported lost or stolen, the processing time is likely to be in excess of 11 weeks.”
The spokesman highlighted that Bermuda passports were not approved, printed or issued in Bermuda and that all applications were sent to the UK Government, who are responsible for the process.
“While the department will continue to accept and send passport applications to the UK, the length of time for passports to be returned is outside of the department’s control,” he added.
The spokesman said that BOTC Bermuda passport holders should not book travel unless they have a valid passport.
He added: “Generally, passports with a validity of six months or more may be used for travel before there is a requirement to apply for a new passport.
“You can apply for a new passport at any time before the expiration of your existing passport.
“Strict guidelines apply for the processing of temporary passports in cases of emergency.”
UK officials said last week that they had seen “unprecedented demand” because more than 5 million people delayed applying for passports because of Covid-19 travel restrictions.
“Her Majesty’s Passport Office anticipate 9.5 million British passport applications will be made this year and in March 2022 alone, HMPO processed more than one million new passport applications, the highest output on record,” the office said.
“In preparation for the demand for international travel returning, since April 2021 HMPO have been advising people to allow up to ten weeks when applying for their British passport. This remains the case.
“The vast majority of all passport applications are being dealt with well within 10 weeks’ However, a passport can only be issued once all the checks have been completed satisfactorily and will take longer if applications are submitted with missing or incomplete information.”
HMPO said that it had increased staff in an effort to address the surge in demand and urged would-be travellers to apply for their passports well in advance.