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Learn how to fight back if passport chaos ruins your holiday

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When Nerry Cosentino applied to renew her passport in February, she thought she’d left herself loads of time.

She was resulting from fly to Spain for a solo getaway three months later in May, her first trip abroad because the pandemic.

But a number of weeks after sending off the paperwork she got an email claiming her old passport contained ink stains and that she needed to clarify why.

Costly: Leah Archibald (pictured) lost £700 when she needed to drop out of her friend’s hen-do in Portugal on May 11, having applied for her passport in mid-March

Nerry, 60, wrote back that very same day to say she wasn’t aware of any damage.

The next week, she was told her application had been withdrawn. No explanation was given and she or he was unable to get through on the phone.

It meant she missed her holiday and is now £550 out of pocket consequently.

Despite writing to her MP to complain, all of the HM Passport Office (HMPO) would say was that its decision to withdraw her application was irreversible. 

Her only option was to pay one other £85 to reapply. But, six months on, she remains to be battling to get her old passport back so she will do that.

Nerry, from Sheffield, says: ‘I worked as an NHS nurse throughout Covid, and I can truthfully say this has been more stressful.

‘If you do get through you might be either cut off or they don’t have a clue what’s occurring. I’m stuck.’

Nerry is removed from alone. Greater than half 1,000,000 Brits are waiting for his or her application to be processed as civil servants struggle against an unlimited backlog.

The crisis reached fever pitch last week, with tons of of desperate holidaymakers descending on HMPO’s office in Victoria, London. 

But after queueing from 5.30am — two hours before it opened — anyone not resulting from leave the UK inside 48 hours was turned away.

HMPO is expecting to take care of 9.5 million applications this 12 months, a rise of two.5 million in a typical 12 months. The uptick comes as little surprise now pandemic rules have been eased.

The agency has confessed it had expected a steep rise in applications as early as July 2021. Yet despite being forewarned, the common processing time for normal applications has soared from three weeks to 10.

Last week, HMPO director Thomas Greig admitted to MPs that 10 pc of live applications had already taken longer than this.

As of July 3, around 23,107 — or 4 per cent — of 616,534 applicants had been waiting for greater than 14 weeks, in line with a Freedom of Information request submitted by a disgruntled traveller. 

Meanwhile, scores of furious holidaymakers have taken to social media to share their outrage as they’re forced to desert their summer breaks.

Desperate: Hundreds of holidaymakers descend on HM Passport Office in Victoria, London, last week. More than half a million Britons are still waiting for their passport application to be processed

Desperate: A whole lot of holidaymakers descend on HM Passport Office in Victoria, London, last week. Greater than half 1,000,000 Britons are still waiting for his or her passport application to be processed

And experts warn that no travel insurers will cover missed holiday costs resulting from passport delays, leaving families out of pocket.

Leah Archibald, a PR executive from East Yorks, lost £700 when she needed to drop out of her pal’s hen-do in Portugal in May.

The 24-year-old applied for her passport in mid-March however it didn’t arrive until June 17 — almost five weeks after she was resulting from go away.

‘I lost the associated fee of the flights, accommodation and the activities we had planned,’ she said.

‘It’s so annoying. It was such a shame to miss the trip as well, it had been planned for ages.’

It’s not only long delays infuriating customers. One other grievance is that it is sort of unimaginable to talk to anyone about their application. 

HMPO’s advice phoneline is open until 8pm through the week and 5.30pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Calling it costs 10p per minute from landlines and as much as 40p per minute from mobiles.

When customers call, they’re routinely forced to attend on hold for hours before anyone picks up. Those that do get through are sometimes told to loaf around for callbacks that never come.

For anyone over 16, an ordinary passport renewal costs £75.50 online or £85 via the post. For youths, it’s £49 and £58.50 respectively.

You’ll be able to go for a ‘one-week fast-track service’ at a value of £142 for an adult and £122 for a toddler.

As a part of this application, you will have to attend an in- person appointment at one among HMPO’s offices.

While it’s unlikely travel insurers will cover missed holidays, experts say there are other ways you’ll be able to attempt to recoup among the cost.

Prices: For anyone over 16, a standard passport renewal costs £75.50 online or £85 via the post. For children, it¿s £49 and £58.50 respectively

Prices: For anyone over 16, an ordinary passport renewal costs £75.50 online or £85 via the post. For kids, it’s £49 and £58.50 respectively

Kevin Pratt, editor of Forbes Advisor, says that if you will have paid for HMPO’s fast-track service it has a contractual obligation to get your paperwork to you in a specified timeframe. ‘If it doesn’t fulfil that promise, you might have the ability to assert compensation directly.’

HMPO states online that while it just isn’t legally answerable for compensating customers, it is going to accomplish that when it’s ‘clearly at fault’. Payments may include out-of-pocket expenses if it has damaged a document or made a mistake.

Crucially, it also says it is going to consider reimbursing travellers ‘the whole cost of a missed holiday’. Decisions can be made on a case-by-case basis, so it’s price complaining even when you will have not paid for its fast-track service.

To use for compensation, customers should either telephone or write to HMPO. You can too fill in a complaints form online at gov.uk/government/organisations/hm – passport-office/about/complaints- procedure. Include any evidence resembling receipts for accommodation, flights and excursions.

Those nervous about their passport arriving in time are advised to contact providers as soon as possible.

‘It’s price checking your accommodation’s cancellation policy. You would possibly lose a deposit, but which may be higher than losing the entire cost,’ Mr Pratt explains. ‘Some flights can help you rebook.’

An HMPO spokesman says: ‘We can be involved with Ms Cosentino on to support her in resolving her application.’

HMPO says it has been telling people to permit as much as ten weeks when applying for his or her passport since April 2021.

‘The overwhelming majority of applications are accomplished inside the published timeframe, with 97.7 per cent of applications being processed inside ten weeks in the primary half of this 12 months. But we cannot compromise security checks and folks should apply with loads of time prior to travelling.’

moneymail@dailymail.co.uk

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