Latvians in the UK complain about long queues for passports

Take note – story published 3 years ago

This summer, many Latvians living abroad have already visited Latvia, and many are still planning to do so. However, the requirement of self-isolation when arriving in Latvia from the United Kingdom is not the only issue - many have expired travel documents, Latvian Television reported August 27.

Due to the pandemic, the Consular Department in London has to work on various restrictions, leading to more passport applicants than the department is able to serve.

The Consular Department was closed for two and a half months, so around 2,000 people remained without the necessary documents, with a limited number of people currently allowed to be accepted at the same time.

“We make a sign-up list one month forward, and the electronic system automatically opens the records one day further,” said Deputy Head of the Latvian Embassy in the United Kingdom, Katarina Plātere.

“Why don't we sign up further ahead? Because there is a certain risk that there will be a second wave of pandemic, when the institution may have to be closed again, and then we will have to think about what to do with these long lists forward,” explained Plātere.

Diana Mozais, visitor to the Consular Department, said she “had to wait for a long time because I was looking on the Internet, asking friends, and everything showed all the time that it was busy. I waited for two months, it was today that I had my passport expire and made a new one.”

Citizens are interested whether there will be mobile passport stations at remote locations, but unfortunately this will not be possible during the pandemic.

Many hope that they will easily receive a return certificate instead of a valid passport, but this is meant only for exceptional cases, which will have to be proven by documents.

“Mostly these are cases of external circumstances. The fact that a person has bought airplane tickets long ago, knowing well that this will be the time when the travel document expires, is more or less related to the behavior of the person themselves,” 

Not everyone is satisfied when it turns out that the law is not on their side, so employees have to face very rude attitude from visitors on the phone and social media.

“Of course they are absolute exceptions, but they are painful. The employees of our consulate work first within the framework of the law. All the documents they ask for in addition, all the solutions they can or cannot offer in some kind of situation are justified by law. And it's not such a free choice – today I want it, tomorrow I do it,” said Katarina Plātere.

The queues are made even longer by those who sign up but don't arrive. This is about 10%, so the embassy is asking to think about the others and to cancel in good time that someone else can use the time.

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