Published: 14:28, 28 July 2021
| Updated: 14:53, 28 July 2021
Holidaymakers planning to jet-off in the coming weeks are being warned to check their passports are valid, following confusion over the latest post-Brexit travel rules.
The government was forced to temporarily take down its own online passport checker earlier this week after it reportedly generated the wrong information for a number of families using it to see whether their children's passports remained valid for an upcoming holiday to Europe.
Its glitch has now been fixed, says the Home Office, and the site now back up and running. But those planning a foreign getaway, particularly to countries in Europe now that the UK has left the European Union, are being warned to make sure they're familiar with what's required.
Travel expert and broadcaster Simon Calder has been among those to express his dismay at the confusion this week, which has centred around whether those travelling to Europe need six months or three months remaining on their existing passports.
Taking to Twitter the journalist said he's spent months trying to get advice and information on government websites corrected.
Coronavirus and lockdown restrictions since the start of the year have meant the majority of travellers have only recently begin testing out new post-Brexit passport validity rules, as travel restrictions have eased and European countries made it onto green and amber travel lists.
If you're travelling abroad shortly here's what you should know:
Before our exit on January 1, in the vast majority of cases passports could be used for travel across the EU right up to the passport's date of expiry. This meant that providing your passport remained in date for the duration of your trip, you were free to come and go as you liked.
However our exit from the EU now means that those with a British passport are classified as a 'third country' and fresh guidelines about the validity of passports now apply.
What's the change?
Despite some suggestions that British passport holders needed six months left on their passport in order to travel to most European countries, The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCO) yesterday updated its own information on passport validity requirements for a number of destinations including Spain, Italy and Greece.
The guidelines now state that travellers, both adults and children, must make sure a passport is valid for at least three months after the date the trip ends.
However, any months added onto a passport because it was renewed before it had actually expired do not count - so the minimum three month period you need left on your passport when leaving a country must fall - in the case of an adult's passport - within the 10 years of the passport's actual issue date.
The three month validity rules, say the FCO, apply to countries like Spain, France and Italy and any other Schengen country, which is a collection of 26 European countries to have abolished internal borders. You can check the exact entry requirements for the country you're travelling to here.
Getting a new passport
The Passport Office is asking travellers to allow 10 weeks to get a new passport, so anyone who has discovered their passport is either out of date completely or does not have the remaining months left on it required by their chosen destination should not delay in making a new application.
However, processing times collated by www.passportwaitingtime.co.uk which uses crowd-sourced information from the last 31 days to work out average wait times, suggest an adult's passport renewal may be taking around 13 days and an application for a first passport just over 19 days.
Applications by post, says the government website, are taking longer than those which are able to be made online. To learn more click here.