We’re going to paint you a little picture: you’ve arrived at the airport and you’re full of excitement to finally be jetting off into the sunset. You get to the check-in desk and hand over your boarding pass and passport, only to be met by a concerned frown for the staff member behind the counter. You hear the words ‘I’m sorry, but your passport is not valid for this trip’. Your holiday spirits have come crashing back down to earth, and all because you weren’t aware you needed three months validity left on your passport to travel to Portugal.
Then, you get home to find you are not able to claim the costs of the holiday from your travel insurer as cancellation claims due to not having the correct documentation for the country you are travelling to will not be covered.
Not quite the holiday memories you were hoping for, right? Well, don’t panic. We have put together a handy passport checklist to make sure you are not caught out on your next trip.
- Ensure your passport has the correct length of validity. Depending on the country you are travelling, you will need to ensure your passport is valid for three or six months after the date you are due to return to the UK. So, for example, if you are travelling to Portugal (three-month rule) and returning on the 25th May 2022 your passport cannot expire before 25th August 2022. For trips to the USA (six-month rule) returning on the 25th May 2022 your passport will need to be valid until the 25th November 2022. Travel requirements for each country can be found on the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s travel website.
- Check your passports expiry date. Due to the UK government allowing passports to be renewed early during Brexit, some will be valid for more than ten years. Despite this, there are a few countries that will not accept passports that are over 10 years old. This information can be found on the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s website. Taking into account the ten-year rule, and the validity rule, your passport should be no more than 9 years 9 months old for the three-month rule and 9 years 6 months for the six-month rule.
- The condition of your passport. Whilst it is impossible to keep your passport in pristine condition, it is important to make sure you look after it. You may be refused entry due to torn or damaged pages, especially if it’s the page containing your information. Buy a cover for your passport and ensure it is kept in a safe place when you’re not using it. Putting it in a zip-lock bag (like a sandwich bag) when travelling will also protect it from any spills that may happen in your bag.
- Double check children passports. Did you know a child’s passport is only valid for five years? Although you may have got yours and your child’s passport at the same time, it’s important to make note of and check the expiry date before booking a holiday. Anyone under the age of 18 must have a valid passport for travelling – including babies.
- Leave adequate time for renewals. Passports can either be renewed online or at the post office (online is the cheaper option). You can renew your passport once it has expired or if you do not have enough validity on it (mentioned in point number 1). It is suggested you apply for a new passport or a renewal at least nine months before you are due to travel to ensure there is enough time to allow for delays. (The following information is correct as of the 27/04/2022) Currently, the passport office is inundated with applications and processes are severely delayed. Some people are still waiting despite applying over five months ago meaning they are having to cancel holidays.
- What to do if you lose your passport. Losing your passport is not ideal, but we have a guide dedicated to helping you out should you lose your passport before or during your holiday.