With the long-awaited summer holiday season only just around the corner, UK passport holders are being generous to leave plenty of time to check their travel documents.
The Home Office has warned that the Covid pandemic has caused a backlog with passport renewals. Current delays means getting a new one could take as long as 10 weeks, reports The Mirror.
A passports expiry date isn’t the only thing you need to keep in mind, however. It’s just one of many factors that could see your passport deem invalid when you travel abroad.
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So rather than have your holiday plans scuppered by being turned away at the airport, read below to see the four key checks you need to make before going away.
The expiry date
Your passport’s expiry date is key, reports the Liverpool Echo.
The Home Office has estimated that more than five million people delayed their passport renewals in 2020 and 2021, as travel both at home and abroad was greatly restricted or banned due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But as borders across the globe begin to open up again its imperative you check your documents are still valid – starting with the expiry date, which needs to be valid both before and after you’ve traveled.
Most countries require your passport to be valid for at least three months following the date you leave the country. This includes holiday hotspot favourites such as Greece, Cyrpus, Spain, Portugal and Croatia. The best place to check exact requirements is on the Foreign Office’s travel advice for a destination at gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
The date of issue
A large number of EU countries in the Schengen Area require your passport to be no more than 10 years old from the point of issue. However, when you take into account that your passport also needs to be valid at least three to six months after travel, you need to ensure you meet both sets of criteria to visit a country.
As an example, Portugal requires your passport to be valid three months after travel. This means your passport will need to have been issued nine years and nine months before your travel date.
Previously, UK passports were issued and essentially allowed for this buffer, but following Brexit this doesn’t apply in the same way now. Again the best place to check exact requirements for your destination is on gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice. But it’s also worth speaking to your airline or tour operator if you’re uncertain.
Check your passport for damage
A damaged passport could be deemed invalid by border control on either side of your journey. If yours is damaged in any way, you’ll need to apply for a new one.
Damage can be anything from your personal details being unreadable to missing or ripped pages, and even water damage. Any unexpected markings or writings could also mean your passport isn’t deemed suitable.
You can find out more about renewing a damaged passport on the website here – gov.uk/renew-adult-passport/replace.
Use the Foreign Office advice checklist
The Foreign Office has issued a specific pre-travel checklist for Brits to use as guidance before holidays, and this includes key information on passports and visas.
As part of its advice it suggests:
- “Take a photo or copy of the information page of your passport (the page with your photo, personal details and passport number) and store it securely, so you can access it if your valuables/phone are lost or stolen.”
- “Sign your passport on the page opposite your information page. An unsigned passport is not valid.”
- “Fill in your emergency contact details in the back of your passport.”
You can find out more on gov.uk/guidance/foreign-travel-checklist.