If you’ll have less than six months left on your passport by the time the UK leaves the European Union on March 29 and you’re planning an overseas trip any time soon, you might want to think about renewing it asap, by which I mean this week.
It’s possible that if Britain crashes out of the EU without a deal, which is looking increasingly likely, only British passports with a minimum of six months left will be valid for travel to countries in the Union from the end of March.
Brexit secretary Steve Barclay has announced that the Home office will publish advice on travelling within the EU post Brexit early next week (shortly ahead of the Commons’ vote on Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposed Brexit deal) which could very possibly lead to a rush to renew passports, which in turn could lead to long delays in new ones being issued.
At least two million passports are due to expire before the end of September 2019, so, assuming they all apply to renew, that’s two million that will have to be processed in less than three months, in addition to new applications.
Normally it takes up to three weeks for a new passport to be issued, but with so many potential applications it could take a lot longer. Which is why savvy travellers should apply asap and get in ahead of the rush.
The Foreign Office is warning of further possible changes to our rights and status when travelling in the EU after March 29. For instance, if you plan to drive, you might need to apply for a green card from your insurer and you might need an international driving permit at a cost of £5.50.
British citizens will also have to apply for an electronic travel authorisation to visit European countries within the Schengen zone, at a cost of €7 every three years, although this isn’t likely to be introduced until 2021.
Also, it’s possible that mobile phone operators will re-introduce roaming charges immediately post-Brexit, so check before you use your phone abroad. You might also have fewer rights if you bought some elements of your holiday from an EU-based company. Also, you’ll need to make sure you have travel insurance because the EHIC, which entitles you to free medical treatment within Europe, might no longer be valid if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
Rules regarding travelling with pets might also change after March 29, so you’ll need to check with the Foreign Office before you go.
Details of these and other possible changes are all on the Government’s website.