Don’t get caught out at the airport next year

Don't get caught out at the airport next year

Don’t get caught out at the airport next year

Anyone thinking about taking a foreign holiday to beat the winter blues should check their passport.

The warning has gone out from consumer experts at Which? who are reminding people of big changes when the Brexit transition period ends.

Brits will need a minimum of six months left on their passports to travel to Schengen Area countries – which applies to most of Europe, including favourite destinations Austria, France, Greece, Portugal and Spain.

Currently, passport turnaround time is three weeks for online applications, according to the Home Office, says Which? although this could lengthen as we approach the January deadline.

“And with just over three weeks to go until 1 January, you don’t want to get caught out at the airport if you’re due to travel immediately in the new year,” said a spokesperson for Which?

“To make things more complicated, if you renewed your current passport before the previous one expired, any remaining validity (up to nine months) would likely have been added to its expiry date over the usual limit of 10 years.

“However, any extra months on your passport may not count towards the six months required. This is because Schengen Area countries also require passports to have been issued within the last 10 years on the day of travel.”

This means that you could have up to 15 months left on your passport and you’d still be refused entry to Schengen Area countries.

There are 26 European countries which are in the Schengen Area. They are countries with mutual borders that have abolished controls between those borders and have a common visa policy.  The countries are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

An easy way of checking validity if you’re not sure, is using the government’s passport checker tool.

It costs £75.50 to renew or replace a passport if you apply online. It costs £85 if you fill in a paper form – and could take longer than three weeks to be issued.

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