Will a No Deal Brexit mean your passport is out of date? Here are the key facts for holidaymakers
- HM Passport Office has issued a warning for Britons to check their passports
- The service checks if passports will be valid if Britain leaves the EU with no deal
- Home Office admits a pre-Brexit rush may trigger delays for passport renewals
Were you one of the thousands of people who received a text message from HM Passport Office last week? Many believed it was a scam but it was, in fact, a Government warning for people to check that their passports will be valid if we crash out of the EU with no deal.
The texts direct people to a new ‘passport-checker’ service on the official Gov.uk website. Fail the test and fail to renew your passport in time and you could be turned back at the border of any of the EU’s Schengen Zone countries this summer – including holiday destinations such as France, Greece, Spain and Portugal.
And while most of the focus of the Government’s publicity is on those whose passports expire in the next six months, a little-known rule means you can be affected even if the expiry date comes much later.
Genuine warnings: One of the Passport Office texts
Key facts holidaymakers MUST know now
1. The alerts are worst-case-scenario warnings that apply if we leave the EU without a deal. If this is the case, it’s likely passports must be at least six months from their expiry date to be valid for travel in the Schengen Zone. At the moment (and if we strike an exit deal before March 29), you can have a week in Europe even if your UK passport expires the following month.
2. The Schengen Zone’s six-month rule will assume that the passport lasts for the standard ten years. But some British passports last for almost 11 years – because in the past the Government added up to nine months to a new passport if you renewed your old one before you needed to. That means a passport issued on April 1, 2009, could have an expiry date of January 1, 2020. But for Schengen entry, it will be treated as if it expires on April 1, 2019. To get a clear picture of how the EU will treat your passport, add nine-and-a-half years to its issue date rather than deducting six months from its expiry date. Or use the official checker at passport.service.gov.uk/check-a-passport.
The text directed people to a new ‘passport-checker’ service on the official Gov.uk website
3. The Home Office admits a pre-Brexit rush may trigger delays for passport renewals. If you apply online, it costs £75.50 to get a new adult passport (£49 for under-16s) and in normal times you should receive it, by post, within three weeks. Apply at a post office and it costs £85 for adults and £58.50 for children and the same three-week target is applied. If No Deal looks likely, issue times could double. In a real emergency there’s also a one-week service for £142 (£122 for children) or same-day services from £177. Get official info at gov.uk (search for passports) at post office branches or at postoffice.co.uk/passport-check-send.
4. Pet passports and UK driving licences may also become invalid in Europe after a No Deal Brexit – and drivers are likely to need an International Driving Permit (£5.50 from post offices). Go to gov.uk and search for ‘pets’ or ‘driving licence and Brexit’ for the latest official advice.
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