A TRAVEL expert has told Brits they need to "act now" to avoid holiday disappointment after passport office workers announced they will be going on strike for five weeks.
Members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) have announced the walk out, which could impact on the processing of passports in time for the summer.
More than 4,000 PCS workers in England, Scotland and Wales will take part in the action between April 3 and May 5.
Workers in the passport office in Belfast are currently being balloted and could join the strike as well.
Offices in areas including Durham, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Newport, Peterborough and Southport are expected to see major disruption.
Kevin Pratt, travel insurance expert at Forbes Advisor, has urged anyone who will need their passport renewing before the summer to start the process now, or risk missing out on their holidays.
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He said: "News that passport officers are planning a five-week strike between 3 April and 5 May will have sent many people whose passports are due for renewal flying into a panic.
"We're heading into busy times for the travel sector, and passport applications and renewals are no exception. The strike has clearly been called to put maximum pressure on the employers.
"The strike won't close passport offices completely but it will introduce delays into the process, and these could linger into the summer.
"Anyone with travel plans who needs to sort out their passport should start the ball rolling without delay to give themselves the best chance of having the necessary documentation to head overseas."
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Kevin reminded holidaymakers that their travel insurance will not cover them if they have to cancel trips because of an expired or out-of-date passport.
He continued: "Unfortunately, it is highly likely that your travel insurance will not provide cover if you do not have a valid passport when you're due to travel.
"Insurers say it is the traveller's responsibility to have all the required paperwork, and they don't make allowances for the disruption caused by a strike.
"Equally, you won't have any recourse from your airline if you have to cancel your flight – they'll tell you the matter is out of their control and, as such, it is not their responsibility."
Currently, Brits are being advised to allow ten weeks for passport applications to be processed.
Those who don't give themselves plenty of time to apply for a new one could miss out on their summer holiday.
To make matters more urgent, a million more applications than normal are forecast to be made in the first half of 2023 and Brits have already been told not to wait to apply.
Speaking to MPs in December, the Permanent Secretary at the Home Office Matthew Rycroft, said they would "need to be ready for next year to be even busier than this year” when it came to passport renewals.
Rycroft added: “Now would be a very good time for anybody listening [to renew their passports]".
Thomas Greig, director of passports at HMPO told i: “The shape of passport demand used to be very, very predictable.
"But what we’ve seen over the pandemic is that people that would normally renew their passport will only now renew them when there’s reason to do so, and that’s right before the summer.
“So if you look at our demand profile for next year it’s much more… front-loaded towards the first couple of months.”
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Meanwhile, this expert revealed the trick he used to speed up his passport processing time.
Other advice about how to get a fast track passport has already been revealed.
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