Background to the report

HM Passport Office (HMPO) receives around seven million passport applications every year, and in the years before the COVID-19 pandemic, demand was predictable. In 2020 and 2021, however, the demand for passports reduced significantly, as people chose to delay renewing or applying for new passports due to travel restrictions. HMPO estimated that around five million people had delayed applying for passports over the two years, and that these applications would return once restrictions were lifted.

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The UK removed COVID-19 travel restrictions in early 2022, and passport applications began to increase. Between January and September 2022, HMPO received 7.2 million passport applications, resulting in a backlog. About 95% of applicants received their passports within 10 weeks. However, some 360,000 applicants experienced longer waits, with possible consequences for their travel plans and their ability to prove their identity.

Scope of the report

This investigation was prepared in response to public and parliamentary concerns over HMPO’s management of the surge in demand for passports in 2022. It sets out the facts about how HMPO:

  • planned for the surge in demand
  • managed the demand in 2022
  • is learning lessons from its experience this year and planning for 2023 and beyond


Publication details

Press release

View press release (9 Dec 2022)

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