Before you book your summer holiday to Spain or your once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Dominican Republic you’ll need to ensure you have a passport that’s valid for your getaway. It’s not quite as simple as checking the expiry date of your current passport and returning home before then. But fear not, we have the lowdown on whether you need to renew and how to go about doing it.
Do I need a new passport?
You don’t need to renew your British passport just because it says ‘European Union’ on the cover. It continues to be valid until either the expiry date or ten years after the issue date, whichever comes first. (For child passports it’s five years.) However, it’s no longer treated as a European Union passport and you’ll have to join the ‘All Passports’ queue when you arrive in Europe. It’ll be stamped on entering and exiting the EU or Schengen area, so ensure there’s still a blank page in it.
If you renewed your passport early the last time you applied, you might find the expiry date is more than ten years after the issue date. For example, an issue date of 01 May 2013 and an expiry date of 30 November 2023. Unfortunately, in this instance, it becomes invalid for leaving the EU or Schengen area after 01 May 2023.
Many countries require you to have at least three months validity on your passport on the day you enter the country. So, if your passport becomes invalid on 31 December 2023 it may not be possible for you to visit the Christmas Markets, even if you plan to return home before the end of the year. For individual country requirements check the FCDO website.
How do I renew my passport?
Passport applications are now available online. To use this method you’ll need a credit or debit card, as well as a suitable digital photo. These can be obtained at photo booths that you’ll find at Post Offices, supermarkets and other places. Alternatively, you can use a photo taken using your own camera, as long as it meets the requirements. Prefer to use a paper form? You can still do this for an additional charge, pop into your local Post Office to collect one.
How much is a new passport?
It costs £82.50 for an adult passport (aged 16+) or £53.50 for a child one. Payment needs to be made by credit or debit card. There is an additional charge of £10.50 to apply using a paper form. Choosing the traditional option means you can also pay by cheque or using cash (at a Post Office counter) if you prefer.
The frequent traveller option has an additional 16 pages and costs an extra £11. Please note that while your passport is currently stamped when you enter or exit the EU or Schengen area, this is only temporary until the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) is rolled out in 2024. Therefore, you’ll only normally need a frequent traveller one if you’re planning to visit lots of countries outside Europe.
How long does it take to receive a new passport?
Processing times can vary but it can take up to ten weeks. It’s recommended that you don’t book travel until you have your new passport. Your new document will have a different number to your old one, so you can’t apply for electronic travel authorisation or e-visas, until you receive your new passport.
If you need to travel sooner you could consider booking Online Premium or the 1 week Fast Track service but these services are subject to availability.
Do I need a passport to travel to Ireland?
While the Republic of Ireland is an EU country, it’s part of the Common Travel Area. So it has a special exception, meaning British nationals don’t always need a valid passport to travel to Ireland. You do need to have suitable proof that you are a British national. This could be your driving licence or even a recently expired British passport! Do ensure that you also comply with the requirements of the airline you are flying with, as they may not accept certain documentation. So if you left it too late to renew your passport, you may still be able to consider booking a holiday in Ireland.
About the author
Edmund Myerscough loves exploring new destinations. His favourite holiday, so far, was a trip to the Balkans that included Dubrovnik, Mostar and Kotor.