Caymanians who hold both British and overseas territories passports have recently found themselves stranded on the islands without any valid travel documents, while they await the renewal of their British passports.
According to Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, U.K. passport renewal requirements have caused a “substantial issue” for Caymanians who apply for British travel documents.
“[There is a] requirement for them to send their Cayman passport, which then leaves the Caymanian with no travel documents,” Mr. Manderson said. “Everything was going fine until there was a considerable backlog [in the British passport office] and now it’s taking many, many months for the passport to be issued and returned.”
Governor Helen Kilpatrick’s office noted Monday that it’s not just a problem specific to Cayman.
“Governors from across the Caribbean overseas territories have made representations to Her Majesty’s Passport Office about the practice of submitted original [overseas territories] passports to support applications for U.K. passports,” said head of the governor’s office Gary Benham. “We expect to hear something from [the passport office] soon.”
Mr. Manderson said he believed the territories had some success in convincing the U.K. to ease requirements of having to send local travel documents, along with the British passport the applicant is seeking to renew.
Although nothing had been announced yet, Mr. Manderson said he was hopeful the changes “will be in terms of [Caymanians] not having to … send our documents over to the U.K. when we want to get a British passport.”
Mr. Benham has said the governor’s office, which is not responsible for the issuance of passports to U.K. citizens, has been fielding complaints from local Brits as well as Caymanians and others who hold U.K. passports and doing what it can to assist.
Starting last month, British nationals living in Cayman can apply for current passports to be extended up to 12 months if renewal are pending. Details of how to do that can be found at www.gov.uk/browse/abroad/passports.
Long delays with British passport renewals have been front-page news in the U.K. since the spring, with reports last month indicating half a million passport applications were backlogged following the British government’s decision to centralize passport processing.
Cayman Islands residents who were accustomed to sending passport renewals or new passport applications for their children away to Washington D.C. found that option no longer available to them.
In addition, a soft deadline of next May has been set for the printing of Cayman Islands passports in the U.K., although local immigration officials have previously said that date is not set in stone. Premier Alden McLaughlin has said that local passports will still bear the name of the Cayman Islands and will be issued locally, but that all passport details and printing will eventually be done in the U.K.
The Cayman Islands emergency passport stock has enough copies to last about two years, the premier said. After that, it is not clear how the issuance of emergency passports will be handled.