I am a British citizen, born in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, in 1963. I have been living in the US since 1988 and have held dual citizenship and a dual passport holder since 2003 without incident. I have always felt much safer traveling around the world with two passports, and renewing my passport in previous years has been without incident through the British Consulate office in Washington DC and efficiently; This is what you want from the passport office. This is what you would expect. You pay good money, and you expect good service in return. So that does not happen.
And now this. I moved online to HM Passport Office, believing that the internet should be a faster and more efficient way to do business for a 10-year renewal. The first hurdle for me was the rather cumbersome “digital passport photo”. The first photo I took in the “Verified passport photo” section was not good. It had to be a “digital photo” and this is not a common practice for passport photos in California where I live. I’ve finally found a photo lab that does one of those special things – naturally, for an extra fee.
I completed the form, uploaded the private photo, and delivered my valuable UK passport shipment (which didn’t expire until April) via USPS, registered mail.
There was a period of silence and then a text message on February 11, 2022 that the British passport (Durham office) had received my application. Oh, I love that texting thing; I said to myself. Very effective! On February 12th, the same text string reminded me to mail documents. examines. I did it already. On February 26th, I got a message telling them that they hadn’t received my documents yet, but to ignore the message if I had already sent it. Well, of course I had, but that’s a ridiculous amount of time when you’ve already mailed your important documents by first class air and recorded the delivery.
Finally, on March 7th, they reported that the homing pigeon had just handed over my documents and I breathed a sigh of relief. On Friday, March 11th, and Thursday, March 17th, I received messages that they had emailed me regarding my order, and that the order was being processed. All is well and good. I was hoping to carry my freshly renewed British passport in my travel pocket and be ready to go by March 18, when I was due to be across the pond again, but not to worry. At least I had my US passport to rely on.
On Thursday, April 21st, I received a text message that HM Passport Office had withdrawn my application. wait what? Where was my flowered passport? My application, my British passport which was still valid, is now withdrawn? It’s time to get the big guns and call the phone – sure, I can get some answers there. And quickly.
Ha! I spent five hours the same day being moved from one department to another in HM Passport Office, because no one can help me, or access my file in that department. No, they needed to turn me into someone who could; But I could not find this person. It was a nightmare scenario. Boring hippie background music gave me Gibbs after a while; But I was very focused on locating my passport, and what on earth, after 58 years as a British citizen without even a parking ticket in my name, could be the subject of my passport renewal?
In the final transfer a very nice Indian lady advised that the new law requires, if you hold a foreign passport in addition to a British passport, you should copy every page of this passport and send this packet of paper to the passport office to accompany your application. Can it be emailed? no, not possible. Can she make a note in the system, that I was not aware of this additional step and will mail the said documents to accompany my application immediately. No, you couldn’t take a note. Is it likely that they will be able to pair these documents with my other documents now infused into the HM Passport Office if I provide my unique reference code? No, that wasn’t likely either.
The most likely scenario, as I noted very calmly, once they withdraw your application, is that they will mail your passport – at some point – and ask you to start over. With a new passport fee.
It is now April 30th, and I have not received any further communication regarding my passport application. I had just been reading in the London Times about the ongoing chaos inside the passport office, and I wasn’t surprised by it yet. I am just grateful that I have a US passport in my name with two years to complete before it expires. Who knows, it might take that long to renew my British country; But I would really appreciate it if that didn’t happen.
You should really feel for the many people who don’t have a second passport to reference and whose holidays have been canceled because of this. 2.5 long years have passed in most people’s worlds and this is unacceptable. Shocking stories reverberate across the UK about families desperate for a vacation and unable to do it because their passport renewals linger in some rotten passport archive somewhere, surrounded by untrained workers who have no idea how to help long lines send off. On mocking angry callers who are all striving for the same outcome.
If you are planning to travel anytime soon and need to renew your passport, I urge you to expedite that along with every dollar of expedited fee you can collect to accompany your application. I’m sure US passport offices struggle with these applications in a similar way, although one might hope they aren’t quite as ineffective as the systems I’ve been dealing with abroad.
I’m about to start the new journey of PPRPart2 (PassPort Renewal Part 2) with a new fee – no idea why – in my quest to try to renew my British passport. I have been a British citizen for almost 59 years continuously. Sincerely from birth.
With all this constant chaos in mind, I worry that I will never receive the passport again in my hot little hands. wish me luck.