Passport extensions for distressed Brits


The recent controversy over British passports has taken a turn for the better. As from Monday June 23, expats fearful that unexpected delays could affect their travel plans, can ask for a 12 month extension to be added to their existing passport. The extension is free of charge and is available from the British Consulate, but conditions apply. Those who have already sent off for their passports but are still somewhere in the system, can pay for an emergency travel document, an EDT. For others the normal passport renewal process is still in place but it is slower, a standard renewal taking up to six weeks at the moment, lost and stolen passports longer.


An EDT can be issued at short notice and is usually valid for up to five different destinations including return to Spain, provided the applicant is a resident or there are sufficient grounds. An EDT does not automatically guarantee the same entry rights into a country, as a full British passport would, some countries will not accept EDTs or in cases like the USA, the holder will also require a visa.



Mindful of the potential rush for extensions and EDTs, the consulates will try to attend to the most urgent cases first, especially those with immediate travel plans starting in the next couple of days. In both cases for extensions and ETDs, applicants are advised to contact their nearest British Consulate, preferably by phone or via the website and make an appointment rather than just walk in. Passport holders with the new extension should probably replace their passport as soon as the crisis has blown over to avoid creating a similar scenario in 12 months time.


Reportedly the FCO gave due warning to Her Majesty’s Passport Office in January that moving passport renewals back to the UK could and probably would cause painful delays. The last UK passport crisis in 1999 was blamed on mismanagement and the introduction of a rather expensive, but inadequate computer system and the crisis in 1989 was for similar reasons. Meanwhile on the shop floor, passport office staff continue to process the increased number of applications as fast as they can.


UK Passport Office backlog causes chaos


  1. I am one of the first to complain about poor service, particularly when it’s the result of Government ‘cut ‘ Trade Union blackmail.

    The UK’s Passport Service seems to have suffered dreadfully during the last year, with the most horrendous ‘backlogs’ being reported. It is now only fair that, with great pleasure, I can now acknowledge the current situation in that particular department….

    On 18th January I Googled ‘How to renew a UK Passport from Overseas’. I immediately got a lot of information, and the opportunity to complete an ‘on-line’ application. As a result of what came back, on the next day I posted the old passport and a couple of photos to Belfast, as instructed.

    Yesterday, on 4th February our friendly local courier-delivery man knocked on the door and handed me a package which contained the new passport!

    That’s 19 days from start to finish. I am very grateful for such efficient service and thank those concerned most sincerely.
    I don’t think I’ll be making the same sort of report about my other current activity – changing my British Driving Licence for a Spanish one. It’s taken two weeks just to get the application form in process!


    John Westwood, Tormos (Alicante)


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