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Anonymous15 Dec 2015
I just have to get this rant off my chest!
I am now more than ever convinced our Passport agency is not fit for purpose.
An employee of mine working in China had his passport stolen in HK in October. He is a chef, bloody good one but not the smartest knife in the box, so I have been helping sort it out for him.
So, he applied on-line but then had to post all the documents to Liverpool…. from China…then, despite him having 2 previous passports they wanted his pictures countersigning. I questioned them on this as I have never had to have mine done apart from my initial passport. Must be done as it he does not have the old passport was the reply. I responded by asking don’t they have copies of his passport in the UKBA data base, obviously for all this biometrics stuff, well they couldn’t answer that except that rules are rules. I said that he is in China and no-one is qualified to sign his picture so that means he has to have pictures done, post the application etc to a notary (in this case me) to sign and post onto Liverpool. Ridiculous. So, 5 weeks they said. It’s now 6 weeks.
He can only get a 30-day visa into China on an emergency travel document, every 30 days has to come back to HK, buy new document from the consulate, £100, get new visa £150, stay in hotel, £150. So every time it’s costing £400. He is now on his second and they only allow 3.
I asked them at Liverpool what the problem was and they said security checks. I questioned 5 weeks to do security checks, despite him being interviewed twice at the consulate, police report and providing UK proof of address, photocopy of stolen passport and UK driving license. On top of that I provided a copy of my passport, address proof, contact numbers, inside leg measurement etc. I asked them if that’s the case why has no-one contacted me at all from Passport authority…silence again, followed with “well I have seen them take up to a year’.
So, if he flew home he can get it in 48 hours by paying £200 priority service but outside UK takes up to a year? Travelling and he is looking at best part of £2,000 by the time his 3rd ETD runs out and he will have to come back to UK to get a new one. It’s a joke.
Excuse the incoherent rant but my blood is boiling, I would be interested to hear if this is the new normality for UK passport authority15 Dec 2015
I recently got my passport renewed here in Beirut and the service was as smooth as anything. A straightforward 4-week turnaround.
Handed passport in at the office of the UK Immigration service providers here (no, the embassy doesn’t handle this – it’s outsourced, just like everything else in Great Britain) and got it back by DHL 4 weeks later.
I guess the problem is the missing old passport.15 Dec 2015
I had a problem 10 years ago when I did the passport check and send and they then lost my passport. In meantime a trip to Japan came up so needed new passport back. After waiting the obligatory 3 weeks and nothing returned discovered that passport office never received the old passport or application form and had been lost. Took several calls (about 7 from recollection) until I got through to someone who was very understanding of the situation and advised that I would need to complete a new application (and get photo countersigned) but I wouldn’t need to get a police report to advise passport lost as they knew why / how it was lost. And she gave me her personal work address so she could process the next day. She then duly called me back to say that she had my new passport all done and it was in her hands and I got it back the next day before the Easter Weekend and I was due to travel straight after.
So she was brilliant – but the first 6 people didn’t give a flying **** about the situation and couldn’t care less – even though I had paid for the passport check & send. They said it wasn’t their problem. Sadly I think it is an attitude that still exists to this day and no doubt the lady who helped me (a low level manager I guess) has moved on to bigger and better things. The rest of UKPA could learn a lot from her.15 Dec 2015
Stevescoots, could this perhaps not be the first passport the chap has had lost/stolen. The passport office does make it harder if they even sniff a pattern emerging of lost stolen passports. I lost mine when abroad once a few years ago and a new one was issued by the British Embassy next day, albeit only valid for a year but extended later when I had not lost it again!15 Dec 2015
I empathise with the rant Steve, and one of our difficulties is that we don’t want to write or say anything too negative about the UKBA or the Passport Office because none of us wants our card to be marked. The same is true about UK visa policy. So a couple of careful comments only.
In recent years, I have done all my passport applications in person, at the office in Victoria, London. Despite one or two hiccups, the service has been good and helpful.
A lot of procedures appear to be designed to be difficult rather than to be rational. The example of your colleague in China is a good one.
The passport forms do not make everything clear – for example, a short while ago I countersigned a passport application for the child of a neighbour. The form asks for the counter-signatory’s work address, so I gave the address of my office in France. Not accepted. Why not? They know my home address in the UK. They know my passport number. They can look me up on the Medical Register. Their database will tell them that I work for an international agency. So does the counter-signatory have to be working full-time in the UK?
Of course, all salient pages of the passport are available to the authorities electronically. I have been shown images of both my UK passports on a visit to a British embassy.
Much visa policy is pure tit-for-tat. The UK makes very awkward requirements for Russians wishing to get a UK visa; so the Russians make it equally difficult for the British visiting there. Visa fees are often exorbitant, bear no relation to the true cost, and again seem to be set using tit-for-tat rules.15 Dec 2015
Tim, I never use the check service, I countersigned my neighbours and she took it to post office, who checked it and rejected it. I can’t remember the reason but I looked it over again, it was ok so she posted it and passport came about 3 weeks later. Post office staff did not know what they were doing. As you know my travel plans my Uk turn arounds are always quick so I do mine in person, Hk scrapping passport stamping was a god send as there was about 4 years I was doing a passport once a year.
Michael, this would be his third, 1st that has been lost/stolen and the only countries he ever had in his old passports were US, South Africa 6 years ago and China, not even any dubious countries. No criminal record and a very British sounding name (should they be profiling) it smacks of ineptitude
David, I agree! The online one is a joke. First of all, he could not do it from mainland China as the site would not accept payment. I ended up doing the form on line for him from UK, then sending to him to sign. On top of that I had to call them twice because the space for the address was not long enough…write a covering letter they said. Then it wanted a post code…HK does not have postcodes…just put something like 12345 and write a covering letter explaining…
Regarding address as he is not a resident, just on a 1-year placement in China he has no registered delivery address. They would not allow it to be sent to the consulate but did say we can use the company address, with a covering letter…..I took it on my own initiative to send company registration details etc as proof of that address16 Dec 2015
I’m amazed how complicated this all is. For my Swiss passport as follows:
Make appointment at Embassy or Consulate
Fill in form. Basically name, address, dob, place of origin and all done on line.
Visit consul where they take your photo and fingerprint.
If you lose it, then police report in hand they will issue a temporary one valid for worldwide travel for a year.
Oh, and the biometrics can be done anywhere in the world.16 Dec 2015
Like DavidGordon10 I have done all recent transactions at the Victoria Passport Office. A bit more expensive but less stressful.
The only issue I had was renewing a second passport and they asked for the number of the first one which I didn’t have with me as it was in a visa office. They could see from the system who I was and had the number saved, however it was more than their job was worth and I had to return the next day.16 Dec 2015
This thread has made me get my second passport out and renew it.
When I was in Frankfurt last week, a passenger was in debate with BA as they had lost their passport. Despite having a UK driving license and a copy of their passport, they were being sent to Dusseldorf for a replacement. UK Immigration had been phoned and they would not accept the British passenger without a replacement document.16 Dec 2015
One factor we have not mentioned is that there is political mileage (in some quarters) for a Home Secretary who is being “tough” on everything to do with control of the borders. There is nothing in it for her, in making procedures rational: there is a gain from some newspapers and from some of her own backbenchers in making it awkward for, say, a Russian to get a UK visa, or for Steve’s man in China to get a fresh passport.
The idea that such an attitude is for the national good is, of course, nuts but that is politics….16 Dec 2015
Perhaps a silly question, but why didn’t you just fly him home for a week to get it sorted? Surely it’s more risky to send documents via the post. Yes theoretically it shouldn’t take that long and the principles of it etc. etc. But really, we’re talking about an essential travel document and a main form of ID. You don’t want to be fuffing around with things like this.16 Dec 2015
I renewed my passport last Christmas at Victoria, as we were in the UK for the holidays, having been told by post/mail it would be 6 weeks minimum from Singapore ( I travel every few weeks so that was a no go). I booked an appointment in advance, and aside from having to redo my photos as I did not look like the now required psychopath profile they want, the passport was ready within 4 hours.16 Dec 2015