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    British expats in Qatar warned no passport extensions after April 10

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    passport1
    Photo for illustrative purposes only.

    Starting next week, Britons living in Qatar will no longer be able to apply for a one-year extension on their passports, the UK’s Home Office has advised.

    Instead, after April 10 they have been told they will need to apply to renew their passports “in the standard way,” and should expect to wait a minimum of six weeks from when the application is received in the UK.

    Those applying for first passports for adults and children, or the replacement of lost or stolen passports, face a wait of at least eight weeks, according to information posted on the Home Office website.

    British authorities introduced the temporary one-year extension to passports in June last year while facing a severe backlog in passport processing.

    The delays were prompted by a change in procedure for expats’ passports, and the closure of regional passport offices around the world. Since March last year, British nationals have been required to send their passports to the UK for processing.

    New advice

    However, the Home Office said that as demand for passports are “returning to expected levels” the British home secretary had amended the extension procedures.

    Photo for illustrative purposes only.
    Photo for illustrative purposes only.

    After April 10, there will be no appointments issued for passport extensions, although anyone with a confirmed appointment can still proceed with the extension.

    Those who have existing passport extensions will be contacted by the British Passport Office at least two months before the expiry of their stamp to remind them to renew their passports, the statement on the Home Office website said.

    Turnaround times for passport applications vary, depending on the type of passport applied for and the circumstances around it. According to advice on the Home Office website, expected waiting time for applications are:

    • For a first adult or child passport: minimum of eight weeks from receipt of the application by the Passport Office;
    • Renewal of lost or stolen adult passport: minimum of eight weeks from receipt of the application by the Passport Office; and
    • Renewal of adult passport: Minimum of six weeks from receipt of the application by the Passport Office.

    The application could take longer if documents are missing or photographs are rejected, and applicants are warned not to book travel before they have received their passports. the advice adds.

    A spokesperson for the British Embassy Doha said:

    “Now that overseas turnaround time for passport applications has improved significantly, the Home Office has made the decision to end the temporary passport extension stamp from 10 April.

    Applications from British citizens in Doha will take at least six weeks from the point they are received by the Passport Office in the UK, so we encourage all British passport holders in Qatar to apply well in advance of their holidays in order to avoid disruption to their travel plans.”

    Qatar reaction

    While some of the 20,000 Brits currently living in Qatar expressed their disappointment at a potentially long wait, others said they had recently received their documents more quickly than expected:

    Some Qatar residents pointed out that wait for a new passport for other nationalities is even longer:

    However, the eight-week turnaround time could continue to be tricky for new parents in Qatar. Babies who are born here must obtain their residency permit within two months, or face daily fines. RPs cannot be obtained without a passport.

    Emergency travel

    Emergency travel documents can still be issued by the British Embassy in Qatar by appointment with the consular section, if a citizen needs to travel urgently and does not have a valid passport.

    While such documents are not generally issued to babies without a British passport, applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, an embassy spokesperson told Doha News.

    Photo for illustrative purposes only.
    Photo for illustrative purposes only.

    The emergency documents are only valid for one-way travel to the UK or other countries that accept them, and citizens seeking to travel to countries other than the UK should check first with the embassy if they will be valid.

    For example, the only Gulf country that accepts such documents is Oman, so Britons traveling to the UK must fly directly there, or via Muscat. They cannot travel on an indirect flight via Dubai, for example, the embassy spokesperson said.

    The emergency documents do not permit a person to return to Qatar, so the citizen must apply for and receive a new passport before they fly back into Hamad International Airport.

    Meanwhile, there have also been recent changes to the registration of births and deaths of British citizens living abroad.

    Previously, these could be done at embassies. However under the new regulations, births and deaths should be registered in the UK.

    Payment for the service can be done online, and the required documents, which can be downloaded, must be sent by courier to the UK for processing, which takes around five working days from receipt of the documents.

    What is your experience renewing a passport as an expat? Thoughts?

    Lesley Walker
    Lesley Walker is a journalist with Doha News. Prior to moving to Qatar in 2012, she worked in London as a reporter and sub-editor for national newspapers and news agencies. Lesley has a post-graduate diploma in journalism from Glasgow Caledonian University/University of Strathclyde and an MA in International Relations from University of St Andrews, UK.

    17 COMMENTS

    1. This article states that RP’s cannot be obtained without a passport however I have looked on the Hukoomi website (http://portal.www.gov.qa/wps/portal/!ut/p/a0/bY6xDsIwDES_hSFzUtjYCgtsiA5ANzcxxWrrVIlTfp-ahYXFfndnS2dbe7ctw0I9CEWGcdWPt5_2M8jLVLvauFMZYpzIVFt3w07XMbIgyy9yDaaFPGbjzhxooVBg1MsRVsm94gy95lfMFJA9qnfBNJHoV87l6_yJlTrIGBQi6zxQ0nZrE0xCT_IgaOeh3nwAA_6-nQ!!/) sand there is an option to apply for a residents permit based on the birth certificate only. I am a British expat and will be applying for our newborn childs residence permit shortly, if I can do this without the need for the passport that will be better. Does anyone have any experience of obtaining a new born RP? thanks

      • Yes, u can apply for your baby, but you need to get a letter from your embassy acknowledging that your baby is British i think. After which u get a stamp(Not original RP sticker) and info of RP from immigration for your kid on the same paper (e.g Emergency Travel Doc) from your embassy. This is valid for one year i thing.Try to check with your embassy and immigration. Best of luck

    2. The british government – providing citizens ever decreasing levels of service at ever increasing prices.

    3. Is this DOHA news? Come on, British is less than 1% of population in Qatar. Isn’t there any other news which is more beneficial to other 99% of people in Qatar?

      • It’s because that less than 1% are much much more influnetial than you think or you would like . Don’t be bitter , it’s easy to get a Brtish Passport now , we’re goiving them away to anyone .

      • Doha news reports on matters concerning Qatar and its residents. So yes, there are British expats and news concerning them matters. Stop whining and if you dont like it, dont read.

        • It’s not criticism to British or their community. Doha news has limited resources and they can report only three or so per day. And this kind of news should be noticed in website of embassy and anybody interested in could check. I believe there are some other news should be prioritized and other news sources never report in detail, like workers lights.

      • What % of the population does a nation need to comprise before it meets your yardstick for acceptable reporting? Do please tell.

        Would your criteria mean that no news from – say – USA could ever be reported on? It might just be that some fairly important stuff would be overlooked, because you would not ‘allow’ it.

        And wil you be the one to define which news is ‘beneficial’?

        Or should you re-consider your stance?

        Uhmm, that might be best.

    4. With all this cost-cutting dictating the dwindling services to Brits abroad, perhaps the Foreign Office should consider vacating the Embassy’s current, expensive, location, and re-locating to a premises more representative of the support it provides. Might I suggest one of the empty units in Barwa Village.

    5. I found it easier to have mine done on the same day service at passport HQ back in the UK, rather than be grounded for six weeks. Sure, it’s more expensive, but timed with a scheduled visit to the UK it was swift and efficient. I booked my appointment before travelling.

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