Holidaymakers faced ‘nightmare’ queues for passport appointments as people faced missing out on their travels.
Those waiting for appointments at the passport office on Old Hall Street had been queuing since it opened at 9am. Many had travelled hours to be seen but hadn’t been given an update about their application.
The government has seen an unprecedented surge in applications as five million delayed applying for a new passport during the pandemic. The huge backlog means people are struggling to get a passport in time for their travels.
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Those urgently in need of a new passport can make an appointment to visit their local office to have one issued. There are just seven Passport Customer Service Centres dotted around the UK, one of which is based in Liverpool.
The ECHO spoke to people queuing for an appointment on Old Hall Street.
Ellie Smith had got up at 6am and travelled four hours from Newcastle to get a passport for her holiday to Greece. She was told to come to the Liverpool passport office but hadn’t been seen, despite arriving when it opened at 9am.
Ellie is due to travel in two weeks’ time. Despite waiting 11 weeks, she hasn’t had an update on her application since March.
She said: “I’ve been so stressed I haven’t been sleeping. I can’t concentrate at work or at uni.”
Chloe Dyer, who travelled from South Yorkshire, is also meant to be flying to Greece. She said: “We’ve had a hard time as a family recently and I’m worried we won’t get our holiday. It’s my kids I feel for.
“I think people upstairs won’t come down to speak to us because they don’t want to face what is waiting for them down here.” She said if she couldn’t get a passport she’d lose all the money she’d spent on the holiday.
Others waiting said they had been told stories about loved ones who had been unable to see dying relatives because of the delays. They also spoke of a nine-year-old boy who had been turned away despite travelling three hours from Durham with his family to get a passport.
He had been due to go on a rugby tour to Italy and was bitterly disappointed. Rule changes after Brexit mean people’s passports must be less than 10 years old to travel to certain countries in the EU. They also need three months left on their passport from the date of travel.
There are just seven passport customer service centres in the UK – in Belfast, Durham, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Newport and Peterborough – meaning many are travelling hundreds of miles to get an appointment. The fast-track service to get a new passport costs £142 for an adult so, with fuel costs, people are spending hundreds to be able to travel.
Lydia Hodgson, 24, from Liverpool, said her passport had been mistakenly reported as lost or stolen. She had travelled from Manchester to Paris to Luton within 24 hours and had spent around £2,000 to do so.
She’d also been queuing on Old Hall Street for hours. She said: “I’d basically go anywhere to get an appointment at this point! I’d travel to Glasgow in a heartbeat if an appointment became available.”
Pauline Rens from Ormskirk also said she’d be willing to go to Glasgow. The 65-year-old is meant to be going on a cruise to the canaries this week.
She had been waiting to get a passport for her son, who hadn’t realised his passport was out of date, since the office opened at 9am. She said: “It’s so annoying. People just won’t come down to speak to us.”
Jodie from Huddersfield had travelled nearly three hours after being told to go to the passport office. She said: “It’s just a nightmare. I’ve been constantly on the phone for weeks and I still haven’t got an appointment.
“People haven’t been getting back to me and as soon as an appointment pops up, it goes straight away.”
But everyone waiting was keen to emphasise how polite the security staff at the passport office had been. One person waiting said: “I really feel for the workers. They’re suffering because of the pandemic and because the government is unprepared.”