HOLIDAYMAKERS are being warned to renew their passports well in advance, after delays meant that a father-of-two from Curridge had to stay at home while his family went away without him.
Paul Brown watched as his wife and two children embarked on their trip to Italy, while he was forced to stay at home until his passport, which he had sent off for renewal eight weeks earlier, was returned.
When his wife and 11-year-old son’s passports were returned, after also being sent off for renewal, the 47-year-old teacher was told his passport was chosen to undergo extra security checks with no definitive timescales offered by officials.
Mr Brown said: “All three were due for renewal, and theirs came back within four weeks.
“I contacted the Passport Office and they just said mine had had to go through extra security checks and there was nothing they could do.
“They just said sometimes it takes two or three days, some times it takes weeks.
“I could understand if it was the first time, but this is the third time I’ve renewed it at this address.
“Leading up to when my wife left it was so stressful. I am sat here without my family and they’re having their family holiday without me. She didn’t want to go but I told her to take the kids.
“We couldn’t cancel it and wouldn’t have been able to claim on insurance.”
The Newbury Weekly News contacted the Home Office for a comment on Monday. However, Mr Brown was notified the following day that the security checks had been completed.
He is now waiting for his passport to be returned so he can join the rest of his family for the remainder of their holiday.
“People should be aware of the potential delays,” he said. “If I had been, then I would have made sure we’d had even more time before booking the holiday, or I would have done the fasttrack, which makes sure you get it back within one week.”
The guidelines on renewing passports states the process should take three weeks, but advises those needing their passports urgently to use the fasttrack services.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “HM Passport Office will not issue a passport until all checks have been completed.
“We recommend that people do not book travel until they have their valid passport.”