Fingers crossed we’ll be able to travel abroad again from next month and if we can the last thing you want after waiting so long for a foreign holiday is to find that your passport is no longer valid.
But that might be the case, even for some of us who have up to 15 months left on our passports.
Why? Because many EU countries now insist that British visitors have at least six months left on their passports and, crucially, they won’t accept passports that are more than nine-and-a-half years old.
However, some of us have pasports that were issued more than 10 years ago that have yet to expire.
Prior to 2018, when you renewed a passport before it expired, Her Majesty’s Passport Office (HMPO) would add up to nine unused months to your new passport. This means that some passports were issued with a validity of up to 10 years and nine months, but they will only be valid in the EU for up to nine-and-a-half years.
Still with me? Good.
If you find when you check your passport that it will be more than nine-and-a-half years old by the time you travel, HMPO says you should apply to renew it as soon as possible.
During the pandemic, it was warning people not to apply for new passports due to staff shortages during the pandemic, but now it’s warning that if you don’t submit your applications soon it could take more than two months to process.
HMPO says that anyone whose passport needs renewing should apply immediately as it’s expecting a flood of applications in the next few weeks.
The current ban on foreign holidays is due to be lifted after 17 May, after which HMPO is braced for rising demand for new passports.
At the moment, passport renewals are taking less than three weeks, but HMPO says this could increase to 10 weeks if it gets swamped with applications.
Over the 12 months, HMPO has seen a drop in the number of passport applications from around seven million in a normal year to just over four million.
It is vital those who may need to apply for a new passport do so now – Director General of HMPO Abi Tierney
HMPO says it will be sending text messages to people whose passports are nearing expiration to let them know to allow more time when they renew.
Applying online is the easiest and cheapest way to renew your passport, using a smart phone to take and upload your photo to the HMPO website. If you use the online application process you’ll receive a message with 24 hours confirming the quality of your photo, and if it’s not good enough, you can easily send another.