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How to avoid getting caught out by the six-month passport rule

Written by: Danielle Levy
British Passport holders have collectively lost 567 million days of valid travel since new rules came into effect that stop any remaining time on an old passport being carried over at renewal, new research has revealed.

Since these new rules came into effect in September of last year, the equivalent of 155,000 10-year passports have been wasted, according to research produced by Direct Line.

The insurer found that passport holders typically have 159 days left on their travel document when they renew, which equates to just over five months. This means passport holders have collectively wasted £13.3m when renewing their documents since the new rules came in.

Prior to September 2018, any remaining months (up to nine) on an old passport would automatically be added to a new passport. However, this is no longer the case.

Direct Line’s research found that close to a third (31%) of passport holders, equating to more than 14 million people, mistakenly believe the months remaining on their documents are automatically transferred over to their new passport.

What happens if there is a no-deal Brexit?

Of those who haven’t renewed their passports in the last two years, 1.5 million people (or rather 5% of the population) have less than six months remaining. This could present a problem if they travel to the Schengen area of Europe if the UK leaves the European Union (EU) without a deal. This is because six months validity is required to travel in this area, which includes countries like France, Italy, Spain and Germany.

Direct Line pointed out that nine of the top 10 countries visited by Brits last year will require a minimum of six months validity on a passport if the UK leaves without a deal. The Republic of Ireland would be the only destination that does not require six months on British passports to allow entry.

Source: Direct Line

“In many cases a 10-year passport is only useful for nine and a half years as so many countries require six months validity to let someone in,” Tom Bishop, head of travel Insurance at Direct Line, commented: 

“It is a difficult balancing act, passport holders won’t want to waste remaining time on an old passport by getting a new one too early, but in many cases, holidaymakers will need to ensure they have at least six months validity before travelling,” he added.

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