Did you know that Brexit is affecting our holidays before it is even finalised, thanks to changes to the passport renewal process? I didn’t, and I bet I’m not the only traveller who is unaware of the changes introduced in September 2018…
Before September, if you renewed your passport up to nine months before it was due to expire then the new one would expire 10 years after the expiry date (or five years for a child). That’s no longer the case, and they now expire 10 years after the ISSUE date, meaning that if you renew early then you lose the remaining period that your old passport was valid.
Let me explain why I’m slightly paranoid about renewing my family’s passports, and am super-organised about it… Ten years ago we were all set to leave on a summer holiday, the four of us plus my parents. We had a taxi due in half an hour to take us to Gatwick, ready for a flight to sunny Tunisia. I was sitting at the bottom of the stairs and thought I’d check when the passports were going to run out. I can remember it as if it was yesterday, looking at each of them, and the awful moment when I realised my 13 year old’s one had run out 6 months earlier.
It was horrible, Googling whether someone can travel on an expired passport (which of course they can’t!) and trying to work out what to do. If we hadn’t been going with my parents then I think we’d have all just stayed at home, but I couldn’t cancel their holiday as well as ours! I considered staying at home with my older son and sending the others off to to the sun, but my youngest was only 18 months, and a real handful, and I couldn’t have left him with my husband and parents to go away on their own.
After a few panicky phone calls, we had a plan. My sister helpfully volunteered to look after my son, and his Dad came to the rescue and organised an emergency appointment at the Peterborough passport office in a couple of days. He also sorted all the passport forms and luckily we have a really helpful solicitor friend who was able to sign them at short notice. He used air miles to get a BA flight, supposedly accompanied (or at least supervised, which didn’t actually happen!) to Tunis. This meant that my 13 year old had the adventure of a lifetime travelling on his own, negotiating passport control and the visa process at the other end (luckily we’d been to Tunisia a few times so he knew how it worked), emerging into the arrivals hall where I met him. He missed 3 days of our holiday but we were so pleased to see him and our holiday could properly start once he was with us. I like to think it made him an independent young man, and set him up for a life of travelling fun!
So, as you can imagine, I’m somewhat obsessed with making sure our passports don’t run out. It used to be really handy that if you renewed early then it still ran out on the anniversary of the original date, meaning that you didn’t lose out and could be really organised. It probably helped the passport office too, with people renewing during the quiet winter months, rather than leaving it until the last minute.
That was, until Brexit, and changes introduced to ease the situation during the transition period. As my youngest son’s passport runs out next April, I thought I’d be organised and get it renewed a few months early. I Googled to check what to do and found out that, as part of the preparations for Brexit, new passports now only run from the date they are issued. This means you lose any time between when it is issued and the date that it was due to run out.
We are therefore losing up to nine months of the 10 years that our passports are valid for, or 5 years for a child, if we renew early. This equates to up to 10% of their validity period – and as this hasn’t been widely publicised many travellers will blindly renew without realising the impact.
Some countries insist that you have at least six months to run on your passport before you enter, so you can’t leave it until the last minute to renew. Had we booked a tropical getaway this Christmas (if only!) then I would have needed to renew my son’s passport in October or November, so we would have lost six months of its length. For a child, where a passport only lasts for 5 years, this is a loss of 10% of that period. Given how expensive passports are to renew (£85 using a paper form, £75.50 online for an adult, £58.50/£49 for a child) you could end up paying much more than you would have using the original renewal process.
I think this is a really sneaky way for the government to introduce new rules as a result of Brexit before its terms are even finalised, let alone any changes implemented! Moneysaving guru Martin Lewis explains it very well in this article.
I’d love to know how much cash will be raised for the treasury as part of this change. Not only are we effectively losing the equivalent of up to 10% of our passport fees, I imagine more people will end up using the fast track service which costs an extra £70 on top of the usual fees. More money for the government!
I’ve now made a calendar note to renew my son’s passport in the spring rather than doing it now, so that it will last as long as possible.
Here are some links to the relevant government websites :
- Passport renewal online
- Passport fees
If you’d like to read more travel tips, here are a couple of useful posts :
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