As lockdown restrictions continue to ease in many parts of Europe, many Britons are champing at the bit to leave our sceptred isle for some guaranteed sunshine. Many countries such as Spain, France and Italy have given UK holidaymakers the green light to visit, and as of 4 July the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has lifted its blanket advisory against all non-essential international travel for 67 destinations.
The Department for Transport has also released a list of 59 countries exempt from the blanket two-week quarantine for travellers entering England, Wales and Northern Ireland from 10 July.
Checking your vital paperwork is in order before travelling is essential, but Britain’s departure from the European Union, the introduction of new blue passports and confusion over passport expiry during the coronavirus lockdown period have left many uncertain as to the official requirements in relation to this essential document. We answer the important questions to help you prepare for your next trip away.
How much will a new passport cost?
A standard 34-page adult passport costs £75.50, a jumbo 50-page adult passport costs £85.50, a child’s passport costs £49, and those born before 2 September 1929 can obtain passports for free. These fees are for online applications only – expect to pay approximately £10 more if you choose to complete a paper application.
Are there are any restrictions for new passport applications?
Yes. At present, government guidelines state that new applications should only be made for travel before September 2020 or for urgent travel due to compassionate reasons, such as the death of a family member or government business. It’s worth noting that delays are likely - new applications are taking longer to process due to the coronavirus pandemic.
I have an ‘old’ burgundy passport with ‘European Union’ written on it. Do I need to apply for a new blue one?
Nope. You can continue to use your burgundy/European Union passport until it expires.
However, don’t forget that many countries, including popular holiday destinations such as Turkey and Egypt, will only grant you entry if you have an additional six months validity on your passport from your date of entry. If you’re unsure of entry requirements for your chosen destination, check the FCO website.
My passport has expired or is due to expire very soon. Can I renew my passport?
That depends. Similarly to new passport applications, government guidance advises travellers not to apply for passport renewals before September 2020. Exceptions to this rule include applications in relation to urgent travel for compassionate reasons, such as the death of a family member.
Travellers who booked summer holidays prior to the lockdown may struggle to get away if their passport has expired. A report by The Independent in April revealed that thousands of British passports had expired during lockdown. Usual passport renewals ended on 24 March, when issuing offices around the UK closed to the public due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Anyone who is unable to travel because their passport has run out or has insufficient validity will not be able to claim on travel insurance.
I need to apply for a new passport or renew an existing passport urgently. What should I do?
This option is only available for those needing a passport for compassionate reasons or needing to travel for government business, not for those whose summer holidays are already booked.
Applicants who fall under this category will need to book a passport office appointment and pay online. You can book an appointment up to three weeks in advance.
There are three ways to apply for an urgent passport. As part of the application, you’ll need to attend an appointment at your nearest passport office.
You get your new passport at your appointment. Appointments last up to 30 minutes and the earliest you can get an appointment is two days from when you apply. You can also use this service to renew an adult passport. This service costs £177 (or £187 for a 50-page frequent traveller passport).
You’ll need to get a paper application form from a Post Office, but you must book an appointment online. You’ll usually get your passport four hours after your appointment, but you might get it the next day if your appointment is in the afternoon. You’ll be told when you’ll get your passport when you choose your appointment time. This service costs £177 (or £187 for a 50-page frequent traveller passport).
You can use this service to renew an adult or child passport, change your name, make changes to personal details, such as gender, replace a lost or stolen or damaged passport or apply for a first child passport. You’ll need to get a paper application form from a Post Office, but you must book an appointment online. Your new passport should be delivered to your home within one week of your appointment. Someone might need to be in to sign for this. This service costs £142 for an adult passport (or £152 for a 50-page frequent traveller passport), and £122 for a child passport (or £132 for a 50 page frequent traveller passport).
If you have any questions, call the Passport Adviceline on 0300 222 0000. This is open from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, and from 9am to 5.30pm on Saturday, Sunday and UK bank holidays.