Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Serious delays in UK passport processing of up to 4 months.....

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.

Resources:
UKinUSA British Embassy Washington
@UKinUSA on Twitter
Twitter/Facebook/38Degrees/Petition Forum Thread
British Expats Passport Delay Forum Thread
BritishExpats.com
BritishExpats.com Forum
BritishExpats Twitter
BritishExpats Facebook 

28 comments:

  1. You should make it clear in your 'Emergency Travel Documents' section that they are only available to people who already have a UK passport. If you are applying for your first passport you will not be eligible for an ETD. Also, an ETD will likely only be issued within 5 days of your travel date. You have to present your travel itinerary at your Consulate appointment. An ETD is valid for a single trip, via up to 5 destinations (e.g. US to UK return via France).

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  2. Thank you for starting this blog...it is utterly ridiculous to wait for so long. I have to travel soon to India and unfortunately I cannot apply for an ETC because my passport has my US visa, without which I cannot come back to US and also has my India visa, without which I cannot enter India. So I am stuck for 2-4 months delaying my trip and unable to leave without my passport.
    I really do feel sorry for business travelers.

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  3. Not just the US but Canada too! (carribbean maybe also?). It's truly digusting they have let this happen and nobody seems to be doing a darn thing about it. Careline obviously does not 'care' but they are happy to take your money.

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  4. They've had our applications since mid March. Started 'processing' mid April. My wife's application escalated twice by Careline ($100 in careline calls to date!!) - escalation had no effect whatsoever, had to pay for an ETD ($157) for her to travel once they missed her deadline (she just flew out yesterday). I'm ineligible for ETD as my application is like a new one, so waiting and hoping they can get me processed in time (fly mid July, which would be at the 4 MONTH mark). All in all, we're down $700 to date, no passports, one ETD and a lot of hassle and uncertainty.

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  5. I believe the current timeframe for first time applications is now 12 weeks, on top of the 4 or so it takes before they start processing. It is misleading that they do not factor in this additional MONTH into the estimates.

    I've been waiting for 14 weeks so far. Luckily, I'm in no rush, but I feel sorry for all the people whose trips have been ruined.

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  6. My husband had a very stressful time waiting for his, a totally unacceptable delay with no information even through the premium-rate 'Careline'. My sympathies to all those waiting.

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  7. I've been waiting eight weeks and I'm meant to be flying next week

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  8. I'm in Bermuda and have been waiting nine weeks. When we sent the stuff off the website quoted 4-6. Don'treallycareline quoted another ten. So here we all are, with no chance of getting away until September, which is precisely when the kids go back to school. Flights, trains and hotels in Europe, all non-refundable. Thanks passport office. Thanks careline. Congrats to all those that got them, and sympathies for the many more who are stranded. xx

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  9. Great job in getting this issue publicized - I had no idea what was going on until today! We sent my son's renewal off 9 weeks ago, and I felt quite smug when I saw that my card had been charged 4 weeks ago, thinking the passport must be on its way. He doesn't have to travel until August 25th, so we may be OK even with 10 weeks from payment, but I notice there is NOTHING on the Embassy site to indicate just how awful the delays are. If it slips another couple of weeks we may be screwed! Does anyone have detailed knowledge of the ETD process? If we get to August 20th, could he literally just turn up at the Boston Consulate with money and forms and get the ETD issued there and then?

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  10. Thank God for this blog. I've only just found out today about this! I live in Mexico and sent off to the UK Embassy in the USA for passports for my two small children two months ago! I've been sitting here waiting for them thinking why are they taking so long, not having a clue that I was part of such a huge problem. We have flights booked to England next Friday but they only started processing on the 10th of June, so it looks like we are in big trouble. KLM told us today that it would cost us $1700 USD to change our flights. We are going to England this summer supposedly to say goodbye to all of our family and friends and then off to start a new life in France in September. It now looks likely that we won't get to say goodbye, will have to go directly to France and my 5 year old daughter will possibly miss the beginning of the school year in a foreign country. Thanks Washington! Just as a contrast, when I applied for my daughter's 1st passport at the British Embassy in Mexico City 4 years ago, we got it in one afternoon and the service was wonderful. How they can let their standards slip so atrociously is beyond me. I'm beyond livid that they can do this to me and to so many other people that can't afford this kind of inconvenience.

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  11. Yes it is outrageous, especially when last year they had similar backlogs, one would expect that they would learn and try not to repeat the same problem. Let's just hope that next year this does not happen and there is someone in DC thinking about how to prevent this from happening again.

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  12. One can only hope Cookie....I am working on it, and will continue to when I am back home!

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  13. I have been waiting 6 weeks. Today I discovered that my payment had been debited only last week. The UPS man will not show up anytime soon. Do I have to call the ironically named "Careline"and pay the exorbitant fee in order to move things along? What a scam. I only hope my sick parent can hang on in there.

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  14. Whoever left that last message please either contact me on Twitter @LiverpoolsNo9 or on the BritishExpats.com forum, where I am LP9.

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  15. Spoke to the Careline yesterday and was told they cannot do anything to escalate applications, it is just a waiting game. My payment was taken June 7th (5 weeks after they received it), and Careline said I should expect to wait another 10 weeks from then. My flight from Bermuda to the UK is next week so am going to try to get an ETD. Website said 4 weeks for the whole process when I sent my passport off, this must have been a lie. The situation is a joke and someone needs to be held accountable for the financial and mental stress this is causing so many people.

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  16. Sent off my app may 17th, cc charged June 28th, will receive my passport at the end of August, after our planned vacation. I know they say they have added extra staff but I'm still having to wait 3 1/2 MONTHS for a simple passport renewal, ridiculous!! I'm trying to get help/answers and hitting a brick wall. Nobody from the consulate and embassy will respond to me, will be camping out outside the consulate sometime next week till someone will finally respond to me. Email, voicemail is ignored. Very irresponsible of a UK consulate to completely ingnore a UK citizen when it supposedly their job to aid UK citizens where they work.
    Will post more if I get any response from those contacted.

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  17. Stephen, LiverpoolssNo9, maybe they are listening to us after all. There seems to be a new phone system set up from the consulates. Phoned the consulate in Vancouver, press a bunch of nos. and ended up talking to someone at the IPS office Washington.(very helpful gentleman who name I forgot to ask for).
    Spent 1 minute on hold and was not charged for the call (much better than the 20+ mins on hold with Careline + 72p per minute).
    Now I am waiting for someone to call back about my escalation, Phone your consulates in you haven't alreay they may be able to help also.

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  18. Elaine said.
    I sent passport renewal on April 26th, debited my account on June 2nd and nothing has shown up yet. They claim you should not make travel plans until you have a passport but that can mean up to four months in my case. Does anyone know if you can obtain ED for a vacation or do they turn you away for that ?

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  19. Yes, you can get an ETD for a vacation. You decide what is an emergency :)

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  20. I think they heard you. Careline is now free.

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  21. I sent off an application for my daughter on May 10. They didn't take the money from our account until June 20 and the careline staff, though friendly and helpful, think it will be another 6 weeks before it arrives. They did try to track it for me but there was no tracking info and they said that someone from the British Consulate in Washington will call me within 3 days. No phone call so far...

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  22. We've been waiting almost 11 weeks for our daughter's passport. USPS confirmed that they received the application on May 17th. It's now July 30th. We sent a money order as payment so have no idea whether or not that payment has been cashed. I have not tried to contact 'Don'tcareline' as I'm scared about how much the call will cost. Hopefully, we can get the passport in time to fly home for Christmas!!!

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  23. Apparently the fee for the 'Careline' has been dropped.

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  24. Thank you for drawing attention to this problem. My husband's application was received on June 3rd from Bermuda. Our credit card was charged on June 30th. The careline told us that we are looking at a 8-10 week delay not including transit time (starting from when our credit card was charged, similar to others here). Our dilemma is that he has some medical tests that have to take place in the US before August 25th. I'm increasingly feeling like we are not going to make that deadline. We're going to call again this week to see if we can plead our case, but I'm not hopeful.

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  25. My wife has been waiting for her passport for more than 6 months now! The application went in on January 19, 2012 and she has not received anything till date. Every time she calls Careline they assure her it will be another couple of weeks. Looks like a never-ending process to us...on top of that all her important documents are tied up with the application. Very very annoying and frustrating...

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  26. I have had applied for my first time child passport in Germany since last year October 2012 until now we don't have receive the passport , still waiting........

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  27. can i get isued an ETD in nyc or do i have to go to washington dc

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    Replies
    1. Unfortunately you have to go to DC.....no other option.

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