Passport Office website crashes leaving desperate Brits at risk of holiday cancellations

Following a surge in applications, some Brits are facing a wait of more than 10 weeks to get their passports back

Published

Families looking to fast-track their passport applications fear their holiday plans may be scuppered after the website crashed.

Following a surge in applications, some Brits are facing a wait of more than 10 weeks to get their passports back.

More than five million passports expired during the pandemic, resulting in the Government changing the recommended wait time to 10 weeks as opposed to five, as the number of applications boomed.

Applicants can get their passports quicker by paying £142 for a one week fast track service, £66.50 more than a standard adult application.

Holidaymakers fear that this option may not be available to them as the website has experienced a crash, and is displaying an error message to users.

Some holidaymakers are facing a 10-week delay with their passport applications.
Some holidaymakers are facing a 10-week delay with their passport applications.

An error message on the website states: "Sorry, we're experiencing high demand for this service at the moment and the system is busy. Please try again later".

Issues being experienced by the Passport Office have not gone unnoticed at the highest levels of Government, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson threatening to “privatise the a***” out of the service if it cannot clear its backlog, according to a source.

The Prime Minister also put the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and other “arm’s length” bodies on notice in comments to Cabinet ministers, according to the source who attended Tuesday’s meeting.

Boris Johnson has expressed concern over the Passport Office's backlog.
Boris Johnson has expressed concern over the Passport Office's backlog.

Mr Johnson is understood to be “horrified” at the backlog in dealing with passport applications and will summon the agency’s leadership for urgent talks at No 10 on Thursday.

He is said to be concerned that families wanting to go on summer holidays are under pressure to pay up to £100 extra per passport for fast-track applications because of delays.

More than five million passports expired throughout the course of the Covid-19 pandemic.
More than five million passports expired throughout the course of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The source cautioned that privatisation would not be the starting point, but warned that Downing Street could look to businesses to take over if passport bosses could not meet the 10-week target for standard applications.

Mr Johnson was also said to have criticised “post-Covid manana culture” at some of the bodies for not adapting after the easing of coronavirus restrictions.

As well as the Passport Office, MPs have been raising concerns over significant delays in turning round applications for licences at the DVLA.

Downing Street chief of staff Steve Barclay is expected to meet with the Passport Office official later this week.