Oslo, Norway (By Ahmed Tanveer): The European Union countries permit entry into their territory for Norwegian nationals with expired passports, as the country struggles to provide new passports for its citizens on time. Norway has sent an inquiry to all the countries in Schengen and asked that Norwegians can travel with expired passports. We have also offered to find solutions because we know that a number of other countries are also struggling with passport production,” Norway’s Minister of Justice Emilie Enger Mehl said last Friday, June 10. Due to the number of Norwegians intending to renew their passports that they could not renew during the pandemic in their bid to finally travel this summer, as well as in addition to the shortage of raw materials, the waiting time to get a new passport in Norway is estimated to take as many as ten weeks. According to Norwegian broadcaster TV2, last week, about 90,000 Norwegian nationals were waiting for their passports to be renewed. It is too early to say whether this will be an opportunity. We have received some feedback that this is something to look at. In addition to Schengen, we have sent to the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States to investigate the possibilities,” Minister Mehlaid said to broadcaster TV2 when asked whether there was any positive response to the request. While the problem has not been discussed at EU levels yet, the EU Justice Commissioner Ylva Johansson, whose home country, Sweden, is also facing a similar problem, has advised Norwegians to travel with their IDs, which are accepted for travel within the Schengen Area for EU nationals.
EU Countries Also Facing Backlog of Passport Applications. Aside from Norway and Sweden, other EU countries – including Italy, France, and Germany – have also reported difficulties in providing their citizens with national passports on time. The two main reasons behind such delays are asserted to be Brexit and the reopening of borders for tourists under facilitated entry measures after over two years. The second reason behind the increase in passport demand throughout Europe is also the lifting of Coronavirus restrictions worldwide, including in countries like New Zealand, Albania, Canada, Vietnam, Japan, and more. Since travel was not possible for the majority of Europeans for over two years now, those whose passports expired after February 2020 postponed obtaining new passports until the reopening of the borders, thus causing the number of passport applications to pile up since last spring, in most EU and Schengen countries. In France, for example, between 2020 and 2021, passport applications fell by 39 percent, so that in February 2022, they almost doubled (+94 percent) compared to 12 months earlier, data by the French National Agency for Secure Documents show. According to the same, currently, the average time only for making an appointment to file a passport or ID application is 27 days, which is making French citizens wait at least three months for a passport.
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