What UK passport holders should check ahead of the summer holidays, including why issue date is just as important as expiry date – and why you want to avoid a damaged passport
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UK passport holders are being urged to check their documents ahead of the summer, as the Home Office has done warned extensions could be delayed due to a backlog caused by the Covid pandemic.
Millions of British travelers are estimated to have had their passport applications delayed in 2020 and 2021 because travel restrictions prevented Brits from going abroad. Delays can last up to 10 weeks, prompting Brits to rush to get their documents renewed – and even causing that Passport authority website crashes.
When it comes to the entry requirements of the countries, however, not only your expiry date plays a role. Validity may depend on factors such as your date of issue and expiry date, even after your holiday has ended.
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New rules after Brexit may mean that you cannot board your flight if you do not meet certain criteria.
Actually a family of four were left £3,000 out of pocket when they unknowingly broke the rule and were therefore denied boarding on their flight to Portugal.
With the summer holidays fast approaching and countries welcoming back British holidaymakers, there are a few key factors to check on your passport before planning a trip (or once you’ve booked a trip, you should check them to help yourself if necessary to provide a buffer to refresh your document).
The expiry date
It may sound obvious, but your passport’s expiration date is crucial.
The Home Office has estimated over five million people have had their passport renewals delayed in 2020 and 2021 as travel has been largely barred (including a ban on international travel during lockdown periods).
In the excitement of finally traveling abroad again, it’s easy to forget to check that documents are still valid, so be sure to check your passport’s expiry date.
It is also worth noting that the expiration date must be valid according to you traveled too Most countries usually require your passport to be valid for at least three months after your departure date, including holiday hotspots such as Spain, Portugal, Croatia, Cyprus and Greece.
The exact requirements can best be found in the travel advice of the Federal Foreign Office for a destination – you can check here gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
The date of issue
Many EU countries in the Schengen area require your passport to be no more than 10 years old at the time of issue.
However, if you take into account that your passport must also be valid for at least three to six months after travel, you need to ensure that you meet both criteria to visit a country.
For example, Portugal requires your passport to be valid for three months after travel, so your passport must have been issued nine years and nine months before your travel date.
British passports used to be issued and essentially eligible for this buffer, but following the UK’s exit from the EU this no longer applies in the same way.
Again, this is the best place to check the exact requirements for your destination gov.uk/foreign-travel-advicebut it’s also worth checking with your airline or tour operator if you’re unsure.
Check your passport for damage
A damaged passport could be considered invalid by border control on either side of your journey, so it’s important to keep this document in a safe place. Still, accidents happen – and if your passport is damaged, you’ll need to apply for a new one.
There are several factors that can cause a passport to be invalid. For example, if your personal information is illegible, if pages are torn or missing, or if the pages have been water damaged. Unexpected markings or writing may also mean that your passport is not suitable.
For more information on how to extend a damaged passport visit the website here – gov.uk/renew-adult-passport/replace.
Use the Federal Foreign Office’s checklist for advice
The Foreign Office has issued a special pre-travel checklist for Brits to use as a guide before going on holiday, which contains important information on passports and visas.
As part of his advice, he suggests:
- “Take a picture or photocopy of the information page of your passport (the page with your photo, personal information and passport number) and keep it safe for reference if your valuables/phone are lost or stolen .”
- “Sign your passport on the page opposite your information page. An unsigned passport is not valid.”
- “Write your emergency contact details on the back of your passport.”
Learn more at gov.uk/guidance/foreign-travel-checklist.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/travel/news/4-key-uk-passport-checks-26801193 4 essential UK passport checks before your holiday, including a new Brexit rule