Want to go away this summer? Make sure your passport is in date now

Demand for UK passports is at record levels – here’s how to avoid getting caught out by expiry rules

Ed Cunningham
Written by
Ed Cunningham
News Editor, Time Out UK and Time Out London
Passport on map
Photograph: Shutterstock

With a whole load of people heading abroad again this Easter, it’s safe to say that the process hasn’t been the smoothest. From reams of cancelled flights to hours-long airport queues, the aviation industry is struggling to keep up with such high passenger numbers.

But another issue has also come to the fore: passports. Demand for passports in the UK is currently at a record high, which means that it’s taking much longer for them to be renewed. Pre-pandemic, the typical turnaround for a new UK passport was five weeks. Currently, people are being urged to allow ten weeks – with some waiting as long at 12 weeks for a new document. 

Obviously, you need a valid passport for international travel. So what are the essential things you need to know? Well, a passport expiry date is noted on the same page as your picture, date of birth and other details. Adult passports are usually valid for ten years, though children’s last only five.

But there are also some extra complications which are catching people out. It often isn’t enough for your passport to be in date for simply your departure. Depending on your destination, your passport might need to be set to expire a certain amount of time after your trip.

For example, some countries (like Australia and the USA) require your passport to be valid for the entire duration of your stay. Other countries require passports to be valid for a certain amount of time after you’ve left. Notably, the EU has rather strict rules around passport expiry. All arrivals’ passports must be at least ten days old and valid for at least three months after the end of your trip.

Following the pandemic, many of us are no doubt out of practice in checking our travel documents. But now sounds like roughly the right time to check your passport and make sure you don’t miss out on any trips booked for the summer. Travel is stressful enough right now (and likely will continue to be so for the foreseeable future), so be sure to check destination policies and your own passport expiry date well in advance of your trip.

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