You are unlikely to have missed recent coverage of the chaos caused both by the backlogs in applications to the Passport Office and confusion over the new rules for passport validity caused by the post-Brexit rules for visiting Europe. Many people have had to cancel holidays and some have been denied boarding at the very last moment because of problems with expiry dates.
As a result of the surge in demand, the Passport Office is advising that you allow at least 10 weeks to renew your document and demand for its last-minute emergency service has gone through the roof. Since next Saturday (May 14) will be 10 weeks before the school holidays begin, we are now reaching the point where it may be too late for many to get organised in time for this summer.
So what do you do if your passport is getting close to its expiry date and you don’t have time to renew it before you travel? First, double check the situation at gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice, select the country you want to visit, click on “Entry requirements” and scroll to “Passport validity”. If you are visiting an EU or Schengen zone country (including Iceland, Norway and Switzerland), pay particular attention to the issue date of your passport and double check with the embassy of the country you are visiting – policies vary and there has been a lot of confusion among travellers and even airlines (see link above).
If you don’t have time to renew, then don’t panic. It will mean a longer flight because the EU is off the list, as are Turkey and Egypt (which require six months validity from the date you arrive), and also Morocco (three months). But the countries listed below still accept British passports right up until the end of their validity dates – no additional months are needed, nor are there complications over the issue date. Note that in some cases you will need to allow time to apply for a visa before visiting. The advice below is from the FCDO.
British citizens can normally get an electronic visitor visa – or eVisitor visa – free via immi.homeaffairs.gov.au, or an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) via a travel agent or airline for AUS $20 (£12). Information on all other types of visa is available from the website above.
British passport holders don’t need a visa to visit Barbados. On entry, you will normally be granted a specified period to stay. If you wish to stay longer, you must apply and pay for an extension of stay through the Barbados Immigration Department.
While your passport only needs to be valid for the duration of your stay, note that the FCDO does warn that if you have less than six months validity “it may take longer to pass through immigration control”. If travelling into the country by air, you will also need an electronic travel authorisation (eTA) via (canada.ca) which costs CAD $7 (£4). This will be checked before you are allowed to board your flight. If you are entering by land or sea, you won’t need an eTA but you must have a valid UK passport (see cic.gc.ca).
UK citizens visiting Mexico as a tourist don’t need a visa, but do need to complete an immigration form and have this with them when entering and leaving Mexico. The form is available on arrival at immigration or online in advance (inm.gob.mx) though note that the advance option is only possible if your passport is valid for at least six months from your intended date of entry to Mexico.
While your passport only needs to be valid for the duration of your stay, it must be a biometric ePassport with the silver camera symbol on the front (nearly all now have this). Most holidaymakers from the UK will also need to get a visa waiver under the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) system, but some will need a full visa (see travel.state.gov to determine which applies to you).
Have you had to cancel your holiday or been denied boarding because of the recent passport issues? Share your thoughts in the comments section below