The UK Embassy in Washington DC is currently behind with passport processing to the tune of 12-15 weeks (and rising) leaving hundreds, if not thousands, stranded in the United States. These are British Citizens wishing, many needing, to get home for sick relatives, family visits, business, new careers, and in my case a complete fresh start back in my homeland. This delay also affects Brits in Canada and the Caribbean. ALL passport applications and renewals for this region HAVE to go through the Washington office.
The only form of contact, other than snail mail, is the ironically named 'Careline.' You have a choice of the cost of an international call, plus 72 pence+VAT per minute or calling the US number at $2.50 per minute for customer service on your application. I'm sure these folks mean well, and are working within the parameters set for them, but by many peoples personal experience, its very lacking.
'We aim to process the new passport within four weeks from the date the fee is taken' claims their website. Currently the 'Careline' is quoting 10 weeks from the time they charge your credit card, which in itself is taking 4-5, so anyone currently in the process queue is potentially looking at 14-15 weeks. Almost 4 months for a new passport or passport renewal is completely unacceptable. In this day and age, with the technology we have at hand, 4 weeks is unacceptable. There is no tracking available at any point during this transaction and therefore no available feedback.
On the BritishExpats.com forum there is an active thread here that is currently sitting at 94 pages of people in the same situation, all of them disgruntled, many frustrated to breaking point (leading to the deletion of many posts by the lovely Sue.) I'm sure this is but one of many forums with similar threads.
Someone needs to be held accountable for this situation. There needs to be increased staffing, at this point 24 hour staffing if possible, to catch up the backlog. Also the Careline needs to be made toll free until the situation is back to a manageable level.
The aim of this page is to create awareness within the media, and hopefully push the government into action.
Please leave comments below with your current processing times if you are in this situation.
UKinUSA British Embassy Washington
@UKinUSA on Twitter
Twitter/Facebook/38Degrees/Petition Forum Thread
British Expats Passport Delay Forum Thread