A couple preparing to get married overseas fear their £30,000 wedding could be ruined by ‘nightmare’ passport delays. Reanne House, 27, and Patrick Corbin, 29, got engaged in June 2020 and are due to fly to Santorini, Greece on June 1 before sharing their big day on June 17 with 30 guests.
On March 13, Patrick submitted a request to replace his lost passport and said at the time he was told it would take five weeks. This gave plenty of time to ask before the wedding.
However, the passport office is currently experiencing significant processing issues following an influx of post-Covid passport applications.
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The wait time for a new passport has doubled from five to 10 weeks and the government’s passport website crashed due to demand earlier this week. The couple from Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, now fear they won’t make it to their own wedding if Patrick doesn’t collect his new passport in time – which would lead to their special day being cancelled, leaving them heartbroken and out of their minds poached.
They risk losing the £30,000 they “religiously” saved as companies stopped providing wedding insurance when the Covid pandemic hit. Speaking to The Mirror, Reanne, an artist, said: “It would cripple us, it would be absolutely heartbreaking. Patrick sent his passport within 13 weeks of our wedding, a long time. If we don’t get it, who takes responsibility?
“I was in an absolute state on Sunday, I was in tears and I didn’t sleep. We have 30 guests coming to Santorini, and it’s not cheap. My 83-year-old nan is coming with us. What what happens if we can’t get out?
“I don’t want them to lose, but it’s even more heartbreaking to think that everyone will go to where we were going to get married and we’ll be home. Weddings are stressful enough as they are. We spent two years saving religiously, working overtime – potentially getting nothing back.”
She added: “It’s been an absolute nightmare for us and I think it’s been the same for hundreds of people.” Patrick, a fire alarm engineer applied for a new passport on March 13 and got a lost reference number which was attached to his file.
“There was a five-week delay at the time,” Reanne said. They were given a ‘tracker’ to check for status updates, but claim it kept telling Patrick to send in his old passport.
“He was getting frustrated because he gave them a lost reference number, he kept [phoning] and they would say yes, we have your reference number lost, you don’t have to do anything, don’t worry about what the tracker says. “He probably phones them once or twice a week,” she said.
Reanne said Patrick was put on hold for up to two hours before being cut off, adding that the passport office was a “nightmare to be grasped”. Patrick is not eligible to have his passport processed as an “emergency”, Reanne said.
The bride-to-be said Patrick was ordered last week to give her 10 weeks from applying, and if he hadn’t received his new passport by then, his case would be updated in emergency. But it’s taking the couple until May 22 until the next step is taken – just weeks away from their wedding.
Reanne, who is also involved in the phone calls, said: “I called them on Monday and I was on the phone for an hour and 45 minutes, I spoke to six or seven people and I should have repeated the same information One lady said ‘we can see her lost reference number but the system says we are still waiting for her old passport’.
“I asked what that meant and was told that meant the application had not been amended for six weeks as they were waiting for his old passport. The lady said she would put an alert on the file to be dealt with urgently.” Reanne said she was trying to be positive and praying that they would get Patrick’s passport in time to have their special day.
A spokesperson for the HM Passport Office said: “Given the recent interest in passports, we are seeing an increase in the number of people visiting our website to see the availability of appointments for urgent services. This does not hasn’t affected people who submit a passport application.
“We’ve increased headcount by 500 people since April 2021, which has helped us process more applications than ever before, with over one million passport applications processed in March 2022.”