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Germany: Passport renewal delays frustrate vacationers

July 7, 2024

A German official says what's usually a two-week process is currently often taking two months. He told the Sunday papers that the national printing service was to blame, but his department was copping the public's anger.

Close-up of a hand holding up a German passport, in front of the Reichstag parliament building in Berlin. Symbolic photo taken in 2024.
The holiday season is getting into full swing in Germany, but the passport renewal process appears to be suffering from a backlogImage: Wolfgang M. Weber/IMAGO

The head of a German agency representing towns and cities said in Sunday's Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND) newspapers that the passport renewal process is sometimes taking four times longer than it should at present. 

The disturbance comes at the start of the summer and school holiday season. 

Official says his teams taking the blame despite not being at fault

"Rumors abound in the passport- and ID-issuing departments," Helmut Dedy told the RND group of newspapers. 

He said it could currently "take up to eight weeks until passports are delivered — normally it is only about two weeks." 

Dedy said that local authorities in towns and cities themselves were not to blame for this, rather the problem lay with delays at the federal document printing agency, the Bundesdruckerei

"The delivery problem lies at the Bundesdruckerei, but it's city employees dealing with the justified criticism from applicants," Dedy said. 

The headquarters of Germany's Bundesdruckerei, responsible for the generation of official identification documents and stamps and banknotes, on Oranienstrasse in Berlin. Undated image.
Dedy put the blame on a different part of the government apparatus, the Bundesdruckerei in BerlinImage: Schoening/Bildagentur-online/picture alliance

Some applicants pay a second time for express delivery

Dedy told the newspapers that many of the people affected — worried they would not receive a replacement passport in time for their holidays — would file a second and more expensive application for express delivery. 

In effect, he said, these citizens were paying for the problems at the Bundesdruckerei. 

"That is barely explicable and it is definitely not citizen-friendly," he said. 

In such cases he said people would have paid around €170 (roughly $185). He called on the Interior Ministry to ensure that anybody who had paid twice at least receive a refund for the first delayed application. 

He also said responsibility for canceling the initial failed applications lay with the Bundesdruckerei. 

School summer holidays have already begun in five German states, with the school calendar varying by state here. 

Children in Germany's most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, started their holidays this weekend. 

What does the average German do on vacation?

msh/rm (AFP, epd) 

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