Anger over passport row

A local MP has called on the Government to intervene amid fears people renewing their passports are being short-changed.

Friday, 21st September 2018, 12:10 pm
Updated Friday, 21st September 2018, 1:12 pm
Passport row

Yvonne Fovargue, parliamentary representative for Makerfield, spoke out in parliament after passport renewal changes were introduced without warning applicants.

Those who have been getting a new passport recently have been told the old system, where a maximum of nine months remaining on the existing document was added to the new one, had changed.

Instead any remaining months are now simply being lost if people attempt to renew their passports early.

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The change would appear to have quietly been brought in by the Government earlier this month.

Ms Fovargue has now teamed up with well-known money saving expert Martin Lewis to raise the issue, raising the problem with House of Commons speaker John Bercow and writing to home secretary Sajid Javid.

Ms Fovargue fears the rule changes could lead to people renewing passports as late as possible to eke out any remaining validity.

This, however, could create a problem as many countries do not let visitors in with less than six months to go until their passport expires.

British people travelling to the continent after Brexit will need at least three months’ validity on their passport.

Ms Fovargue said: “It would appear that on September 10 applications for a renewal of a passport changed meaning that in the worst case scenario people could now lose up to nine months’ validity on their passports.

“This change would appear to have been introduced without any prior notice.”

In her letter to Mr Javid she said: “A lot of people will be forced to apply early.

“This means, of course, that an individual is paying the same price - £85 - for a passport that is effectively valid for a much shorter period. As far as I can see, people are simply being duped.

“Can I ask what the justification is for such drastic change? Could I also ask if, and when, you plan to inform the House about this change and how it will affect our constituents?”

Mr Lewis added: “This change affects price, because in effect passports will now only last nine and a half years.

“But it also runs the risk of more people being sent home, ruining holidays and putting many people in a worrying situation.

“Also, because of the timing which effectively means this shortening will take place over the Brexit period, it’s likely we’ll see an even bigger build-up of demand before next summer, when there are already long waiting times.”

Passports are valid for 10 years and residents are currently set back £75.50 to renew them online or £85 to get a new one through the post.

The fee increased in March above the rate of inflation.

Ms Fovargue raised the matter on the floor of the House of Commons as a point of order.