More than 1,000 Passport Office staff throughout the UK will strike for five weeks from April 3 to May 5. Those in Belfast will strike from April 7 to May 5.
The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union said the action is a “significant escalation” in the long-running dispute. They added that the action will have a “significant impact” on the delivery of passports in advance of the summer.
April is peak time for passport applications, a time when HM Passport Office receives 250,000 applications every week. This could leave a million passport holders waiting as their application for a new passport stays stuck in a bottleneck.
The Home Office says:
“We are working to manage the impact of strike action, whilst ensuring we can continue to deliver vital services to the public, with comprehensive contingency plans in place.”
Why are members striking?
Union members are asking for a 10 per cent pay rise alongside bolstered job security, as well as changes to pension and redundancy terms. The UK government insists that putting that into place would cost £2.4bn, a figure they say is unaffordable.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said:
“This escalation of our action has come about because, in sharp contrast with other parts of the public sector, ministers have failed to hold any meaningful talks with us, despite two massive strikes and sustained, targeted action lasting six months.Their approach is further evidence they’re treating their own workforce worse than anyone else.
What delays can you expect from the strikes?
In the aftermath of the Covid lockdown, an unexpected surge in passport applications meant that the usual 12-day or 29-day (when there are complications) delivery turnaround was not met and many missed their holidays. As a result the HM Passport office urges applicants to allow 10 weeks for their application to be processed.
During the strike, wait times may be longer. If you have travel plans booked, check that your passport is valid. If you have at least six months left, then there is no need to rush to renew.
Know the passport drill before you travel to the EU.
These are the elements of having a valid passport:
- Your passport must be less than 10 years old the day before landing in the EU.
- Your passport must have an expiry date that is at least three months after the date you leave the EU.
- Some countries require six months’ validity before you travel. The exceptions are US and Australia.
Is a missed trip due to delayed passport renewal covered by travel insurance?
No. The responsibility lies directly with you to have all your travel documents ready.
How much is a new passport?
Passport fees increased by nine per cent in February. The cost to renew or replace a standard passport when applying online is now:
- £82.50 for an adult passport
- £53.50 for a child passport
For postal applications it is:
- £93 for an adult passport
- £64 for a child passport