While we’re all starting to dream about holidays abroad as lockdown starts to ease, getting on a plane might not be that simple.
As well as the 14-day quarantine rule in place at the moment for everyone re-entering the country and restrictions still in place in other countries, there’s a sunny light at the end of the tunnel.
Talks of ‘air bridges’ with some European countries have kept hopes of a holiday abroad alive for many Brits, but there could be another issue if you’re planning to travel outside of the UK.
Ever since the coronavirus pandemic started, the Passport Office closed due to lockdown and has been operating in a limited capacity – which means a lot less passports have been issued and renewed over the past couple of months, and there will be a longer wait for people who need a new one.
The current advice for people who need their passports renewed, which was issued at the time lockdown started, reads, “Do not apply unless you need a passport urgently for compassionate reasons, for example, if a family member has died, or for government business.”
According to The Telegraph, it’s estimated approximately 500,000 passports expire each month, which means more than a million people could have an expired passport at the moment.
In a statement to The Independent, a Home Office spokesperson encouraged people to wait to renew at a later date if possible, and advised against booking any travel if your passport is not valid.
“Her Majesty’s Passport Office continues to process standard passport applications, but they are taking longer than usual as a result of changed working practices designed to keep both staff and customers safe”, the spokesperson said.
“We would encourage those who can to apply at a later date and, as is always the case, we strongly advise not to book travel without a valid passport.”
So if your passport has expired or will expire soon, you might want to plan a staycation instead.
But contrary to the guidelines offered by some travel providers who insist six months’ validity is necessary, you can actually travel in the EU until the day your passport expires. This is set to change at the end of 2020.