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12 April 2017

Now that ‘Brexit’ – Britain’s exit from the European Union, in case you were wondering – is officially underway, there are a number of things that we need to think about as a nation. The good news is, we have around two years to ensure that everything is in place when we need it to be. The bad news? It’s going to be a somewhat confusing load of upheaval in the meantime.

And passports seem to feature heavily in Brexit plans. Or rather they do when it comes to the British public. The government appears to be looking at them in a less worried light, and this in itself is a concern.

If we look at the rules surrounding passports and their validity, it could be that as soon as Brexit is completed all current UK passports will become invalid – even if they are still in date. So does this mean that it isn’t worth applying for a new passport between now and the end of Brexit? Perhaps so, as we might all need to apply for a new one – again – once the UK is out of the EU.

And there is even more to it than that. Although the UK is not part of the Schengen Area, it does benefit from the same rules. The rules for passports state that as long as the document is in date for the duration of travel, it is fine to use. So even if your passport runs out the day after you return from an EU country, at the moment it is perfectly possible to still use it.

However, countries that are not within the Schengen Area (and that don’t work by the same rules) have different passport limits imposed when it comes to travelling in Europe. Some of them require you to have at least three months left on your passport when travelling. So when the UK is no longer part of the EU, it may no longer be able to abide by the Schengen Area travel rules, meaning that we would also need to have a minimum of three months left on our passports to travel. It seems that this has already started with some passengers being wrongly refused entry to Europe with UK airlines due to having less than three months between the date of travel and the date of expiry on their passports.

This exact thing happened to a couple who wanted to travel to Prague via British Airways. Thankfully, the Czech Republic in London was able to step in and ensure that they were able to go on holiday.

There have, however, been no changes to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website regarding travel and entry requirements, which seems to suggest that no major changes are imminent. But it is likely they will come. 

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