Don’t get caught out by new passport checks!

The 10-year passport rule explained…

Holidays are all about relaxing, have fun and enjoying a well-deserved break. But, we all know that, before you can put your feet up properly, there’s the fun and games of the airport!

With that in mind, have you heard about a post-Brexit passport rule that’s tripping up travelers? Getting your trip off to a good start from the bag drop helps everything else go smoothly. You don’t want to get turned away just as you’re about to board the plane, and you risk being out of pocket if your trip doesn’t go as planned.

So here’s everything you need to know about your passport, when to renew it, and how not to fall foul of the new rules.

What is the 10-year passport rule?

You may have seen issues facing holidaymakers in the headlines recently, with stories of being escorted from their flight after being caught out by the ’10-year’ rule. But what is the rule, and how can you check if your passport is valid for EU travel?

The rules for UK passport holders travelling to Europe changed after Brexit. We used to be able to carry up to nine months left on a passport over to a new one. That meant your passport could be valid for more than 10 years. And when the UK was a part of the European Union, this was allowed. However, things changed after Brexit.

Now, the majority of EU countries no longer accept British passports that were issued more than 10 years before the date of travel.

To enter these countries now, as a UK passport holder you must:

  • have been issued your passport less than 10 years before the date you enter the EU country (i.e. the ‘date of issue’)
  • have a passport valid for at least three months after the day you plan to leave (i.e. the ‘date of expiry’)

These rules apply to all 27 EU countries, apart from Ireland, as there are slightly different arrangements in place here. The ‘10-year rule’ also applies to Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland.

Are red passports still valid?

Red passports are sometimes called ‘Remainer’ passports, due to them being issued while the UK was still a part of the European Union. But these are still valid, so long as they haven’t expired – so always double-check your expiry date before you book! Many countries require your passport to be valid for another 6 months before you depart.

How to renew your passport

You need to renew your passport if:

  • your passport has expired
  • your date of issue was more than ten years ago (if travelling to countries with the ten-year rule)
  • your passport does not have enough time left before it expires

To renew your passport, go online to the Passport Office or fill out a paper application available from certain Post Offices. You’ll need your old passport, and any valid ones you hold from a different country. If you’re applying online, you also need a digital photo that meets the requirements (you can take these yourself now using an app, just follow the application guidance online), and if you’re using the paper application then you need two identical printed photos.

It can take up to three weeks to renew your passport in the UK, if not longer during peak seasons such as before school holidays. If you need your passport issued urgently, book an appointment at your nearest passport office – but act quickly as availability could be limited.

How much does a UK passport cost?

The cost of renewing your passport is increasing. As of 11th April, replacing your passport online costs £88.50, and £100 via post. Children’s passports now cost £57.50 online, or £69 for a paper application.

But be warned, if you require a passport urgently or are applying from abroad it could cost more. So if you have a holiday booked, check your passport expiry date and make sure it meets the entry requirements for your destination!

Should airlines and holiday companies be doing more?

After the flurry of news stories at the start of this year’s holiday season, perhaps more travellers will be aware of the new passport rules and renew if they need to. But some have pointed out that they’ve been able to check-in online or book via travel companies, who haven’t flagged their passport details as out-of-date. In fact, one holidaymaker said they received confirmation from the International Air Transport Association that their ‘documentation was sufficient’ before flying, only to be denied travelling when they got to the gate.

While post-Brexit legislation is available – is it really clear enough? The government ran an information campaign in 2021, after the Brexit transition period ended in 2020. However, it’s been years since, and with the initial campaign running during the pandemic, when travelling abroad was not as easy, or popular. And now, as international flights have picked up again, perhaps more needs to be made of the new regulations.

Can you claim on your insurance if your passport is declined?

When it comes to passport expiration, unfortunately the responsibility falls on you to make sure it meets all the regulations of your destination. You won’t be able to make a claim based on the ’10-year rule’, so check your passports well ahead of your travel date. With long wait times for new passports, especially in peak seasons, being proactive is your best course of action.

Travel insurance is predominantly used to cover any medical emergencies or disruptions during your trip. It depends on your cover, but some policies include passport theft or loss, and the cost of getting an Emergency Travel Document. However, not all policies will include the cost of replacing your passport when you’re home.

What’s more, for your claim to be paid, you’ll need to have kept your passport safe. So keep your passport on your person, in a safe, safety deposit box or locked accommodation. Negligence could see your claim declined.

There are also single item limits, which also apply to things such as your mobile phone, so if your whole bag goes missing then you could find your policy’s cover limit maxed out.

If you have any queries about travel insurance and what’s covered, our insurance experts are here to help. Our Farnham and Oxford branches are travel specialists, who can help you find the cover you need. Simply find your nearest Howden Insurance branch and speak to our team in person or via telephone.

Sources: BBC News, Metro, Gov.UK

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