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Which? warns on European travel shock

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Holidaymakers have just two days to renew their passports, or face being prevented from travelling to Europe should the UK leave the EU without a deal, warns consumer group Which?.

In January, Which? said around 3.5 million UK passports would not be accepted for travel to the Schengen zone from 30 March – those 26 European countries that have officially abolished passport control at their mutual borders.

Although previous advice was that passports with six months validity would be required, the Government has confirmed that any passport holders with up to 15 months validity could be affected. This could affect up to 1.5 million people travelling this summer.

There is a loophole that means any time carried over from an old passport at the time of renewal – previously allowed for up to nine months – will not be recognised. To date, any UK passport holders who renewed their passport before it had expired had any remaining time added to their new passport. This meant a passport could be valid for as much as 10 years, nine months.

However, Schengen rules state that passports must have six months validity on the day of travel and have been renewed within the last 10 years. If the UK leaves the EU with no deal, UK travellers will have to follow these rules.

There are currently around three weeks to the UK’s official departure date, though this may be postponed. This would normally be enough time to get a passport replaced, but the passport office may face a rush as the deadline nears. It is possible to pay extra and get a fast track passport within a week.

Which? said anyone who is unsure needs to check their passport status. Anyone who is refused travel because their passport isn’t valid is not entitled to rebooking, compensation or a refund.

Rory Boland, Which? travel editor, said: “Millions of people could find their holiday plans disrupted or worse yet find themselves stranded at the departure gate and prevented from travelling altogether if they fail to renew their passport before the cut off date.
“Anyone who thinks they might be affected should look to renew their passport today or if you already have travel plans in the near future consider using the fast track passport renewal service.”

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