A recent survey on what stresses those about to embark on their holiday most showed that one of the main concerns was whether a passport was in date or not.
Whilst the task of checking your passport’s expiry date is very quick and should be automatic, Heathrow Airport
reports nearly a hundred cases a day where travellers in or out of the UK have not renewed their passports.
You’d think the bottom line would be that you wouldn’t be allowed to travel and officially that’s the case but in practice the situation is very confusing.
Searching online for the term ‘UK passports’, shows that the passport is a means of identification and remains valid as such even after its expiry date unless the image of the passport holder has materially changed in that time.
Some immigration officials follow this guidance and allow entry on an expired passport, sometimes after additional questions. If you’re trying to leave your country of residence, the situation is different as passport control will take into account how likely the destination immigration officials are to allow you in. This is especially true if you are flying to the US. The most common scenario is that you will be denied boarding and will have to reschedule your flight.
The problem should be picked up when you check in and at that point you’ll be directed to the airline’s ticket desk or handlers and, depending on how persuasive you are, you’ll pay anything from just the flight change fee up to the full cost of a new ticket.
Taking a new flight means you’ll still have to get your passport renewed but it’s possible to have it fast tracked within 24 hours for £128 or £106.50 for a child. This could mean you can take the following day’s flight and not miss much of your holiday. Invariably any costs incurred will NOT be covered by your travel insurance as it is deemed to be your fault.
A further scenario develops if travelling within the EU. A possibly misinterpreted EU regulation seems to indicate that a British passport is sufficient for travel within the EU where only official ID is required. Whilst this would seem to fit within the ideals of the EU where a country’s ID is sufficient to travel, on more than one occasion French immigration officials have refused entry to UK travellers using an out of date passport.
It goes without question that a little time spent checking such details can go a long way to preventing distress and the extra cost involved in remedying the problem so we’d recommend that as soon as you finish reading this, you go and check your passport and if the time is drawing near, do something about it.