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The Little Known U.K. Passport Change That Could Cause Chaos This Summer

20 December 2018 #Immigration

While U.K. citizens pondering passport issues such as: 'will it likely be red or blue after Brexit and what line will I need to queue in after a holiday?' There are also some seemingly unpleasant side effects of the transition.

The U.K. government has been gearing up for potential problems for a while now, on its own website there is a document called ‘Travelling to the EU with a U.K. passport if there’s no Brexit deal’ which reveals some interesting information about passports.

It says, “For 2 years, the government has been implementing a significant program of work to ensure that the U.K. is prepared to leave the EU on 29 March 2019. It has always been the case that as we get nearer to that date, preparations for a no deal scenario would have to be accelerated. We must ensure plans are in place should they need to be relied upon.

In the summer, the government published a series of 106 technical notices setting out information to allow businesses and citizens to understand what they would need to do in a no deal scenario so they can make informed plans and preparations.”

So far, so confident, but for holidaymakers planning their next getaway, this summer break could come with a nasty shock. That's if it happens at all, as the government could recommend that citizens NOT book a holiday after the Brexit transition date, but there is also a worry that some passports won’t be valid.

Existing rules

Monica Atwal, Managing Partner at Clarkslegal explains the current rules surrounding entrance to the EU from the U.K.:

Currently, with a U.K. passport, you can travel freely around Europe as long as your passport is valid. But when traveling across the world and depending on your destination, it has always been your responsibility to ensure you meet the eligibility requirements of your destination country. At the moment numerous countries outside Europe require you to have six months remaining on your passport at the time of travel.

There are a lot of uncertainties at the moment: deal or no deal, or when rules will be issued for European travel. After 29 March 2019, if you are traveling to the Schengen countries you will need to have six months left on your passport, and this applies to adults and children. The idea behind the six months is that it allows for extra time if travel plans go astray. "

Bizarre quirk

In the U.K. at the minute, if you need to renew your passport due to a name change e.g. getting married/changed by deed poll or for various other reasons, and you still have existing years on your passport then additional months may be added on to new passport. But under new regulations, these months have now vanished.

Atwal says:

There is a bizarre quirk that if you renewed a 10-year adult passport before it expired, extra months may have been added to your new passport’s expiry date, making it valid for more than 10 years. Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the six months that should be remaining for travel to most countries in Europe.

This is confusing and will undoubtedly lead to a situation where travelers believe they have six months, as per their passport, but in reality, have forgotten to discount months and therefore do not have a valid passport. You may not be able to board your pre-booked flight or you may have issues getting back home."

Check your passport is valid

Regardless of the deal the U.K. ends up with, if you are looking to travel after Brexit in March 2019 it might be worth checking a) that your passport is still valid and has at least 6-months left to run after the date that you plan on returning and b) whether you have had any extra months added on in the past.

Perhaps as good practice, any U.K. citizens with these extra months should treat them as though they have never been granted, and instead see the life of the passport as 10-years after the valid from date. This will ensure that there will be no extra problems at border control for anyone traveling after Brexit.

Read the article on Forbes.com

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Monica Atwal

Monica Atwal
Managing Partner

E: matwal@clarkslegal.com
T: 0118 9604 605
M: 0787 659 0971