With summer right around the corner, you might be about to dust off your passport to jet off from the UK to sunnier climes.
But don’t get caught out by finicky passport rules that could leave your holiday in jeopardy.
Here we present the passport rules you need to know before you travel, from the new regulations for Brits around passport validity in the EU to ways to save money on renewing your passport…
DON’T GET CAUGHT OUT BY EU RULES
When travelling to the EU, a ten-year British passport is only valid for exactly ten years after the date of issue – rather than the date of expiry.
When travelling to the EU, a ten-year British passport is only valid for exactly ten years after the date of issue – rather than the date of expiry
Before September 2018, passport holders could have up to nine months added to their passport expiry date if they renewed their ten-year passport early. Post-Brexit, however, although the official validity of your passport may be beyond ten years, the EU does not recognise these extra months. On top of this, you must also have at least three months’ validity on your passport beyond the date you intend to leave the EU’s free-movement Schengen territory.
So, if you enter the EU from the UK on July 1, 2023, and return on July 5, 2023, you must have a passport issued less than ten years before July 1, and valid for at least three months after July 5.
Several British travellers were caught out by the new passport validity rules last summer and were turned away at the airport. For further details, search for ‘documents you need’ at home-affairs.ec.europa.eu or visit www.abta.com.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Always check the specific entry requirements for the country you are visiting on the gov.uk website before travelling – the rules around passport validity vary from country to country.
For instance, while most countries such as Australia, Canada and the USA just need your passport to be valid for the length of your stay, other countries such as China, Thailand, Egypt and Turkey need at least six months. As previously mentioned, you will need at least three months’ validity on your passport from the intended day of departure from the EU.
If your passport is filling up with stamps and there’s hardly any space left, you need to renew it – even if you’ve got several years left on it
COUNT YOUR BLANK PAGES
If your passport is filling up with stamps and there’s hardly any space left, you need to renew it – even if you’ve got several years left on it. This is because some countries can be fussy about passports with pages filled. For instance, Italy and South Africa require at least two full blank pages.
SAVE YOUR CASH
There’s one simple way to save money when renewing your passport – apply for it online, rather than by post.
The fee for a standard online application made from within the UK is £82.50 for adults and £53.50 for children. Postal applications, meanwhile are £93 for adults and £64 for children. In general, how you choose to renew your passport could end up costing a family of four £40 more than it should.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE?
When applying for a renewed passport, you should allow up to ten weeks from when the passport office receives your old passport, any supporting documents or confirmation of your identity details, according to gov.uk. You can apply online or at a post office.
When applying for a renewed passport, you should allow up to ten weeks from when the passport office receives your old passport and any necessary documents
SHORT ON TIME?
There are two ways to apply for an urgent passport. The first is the ‘online premium’ service, in which you get a new passport at your appointment at your nearest passport office – the earliest you can get an appointment is two days from when you apply.
The second is the one-week ‘fast track’ service, in which you attend an appointment at the passport office, and a new passport is delivered to your home within the subsequent seven days, excluding bank holidays. You must act quickly, however, as passport office appointment slots – each lasting around 30 minutes – are snapped up quickly.
The online premium service will set you back £193.50 for an adult passport, while the one-week fast track service costs £155 for an adult passport.
If you need a passport to travel urgently for healthcare or because a loved one is seriously ill or has died, it’s recommended that you call the ‘Passport Adviceline’ instead.
STRIKE ACTION DISRUPTION
If you need a passport to travel urgently for healthcare or because a loved one is seriously ill or has died, it’s recommended that you call the ‘Passport Adviceline’
Members of the country’s biggest civil service union, the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), launched targeted strike action at the HM Passport Office from April 3 to May 5 of this year.
As a result of the strikes, the PCS claimed that the number of appointments available for people needing a passport was ‘slashed’ and far fewer documents were issued.
Earlier this month it was revealed there could be more delays in processing passports as members of the PCS voted to renew their mandate to keep taking industrial action for the next six months in a dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.
The PCS said the vote was 88 per cent in favour, paving the way for strikes to continue for most of the rest of the year.
SCAMS TO WATCH OUT FOR
In April, holidaymakers were warned to look out for fraudsters exploiting passport delays caused by industrial action by UK Passport Office workers by offering bogus ‘fast-track’ services.
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) warned that scammers were using increasingly sophisticated and convincing methods to trick travellers into paying for non-existent services.
The CTSI said it had seen a number of texts and emails offering speedy passport renewals, warning that victims could lose personal data to fraudsters as well as money.
CTSI chief executive John Herriman said: ‘As always, scammers are quick to leap on any opportunity to take advantage of uncertainty and upheaval. The exploitation of delays brought about by Passport Office strikes is just the latest example of scammers preying on people’s vulnerability.’