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Ask a Travel Agent: Passport expiry confusion

I’m planning to take my family on holiday to southern Spain this summer during the school holidays, but we’d like to take the train from London over a couple of days and I’m confused about how best to book it. Because it’s the school holidays I’m keen to book as early as possible, but I understand some train tickets aren’t available until a couple of months out. I don’t want to miss out on accommodation by waiting until nearer the time we’re due to go, what can I do?

A new regular feature from Charitable Traveller Magazine, our team of experts answer your travel queries. In the hot seat this month is Melissa Tilling, founder of Charitable Travel

I’m totally confused about what is the latest situation regarding passport validity. I’m planning to go to Spain in August and my passport expires next year (March 2025) – will I be okay to travel? And does this vary from country to country? I’m also nervous about renewing my passport as it sounds like it can take a really long time – do you have any advice on how to make that process as quick as possible, please?

Frida Armstrong

Melissa: Since Brexit, UK passport holders are now considered ‘third-country nationals’ by EU and Schengen countries, so entry rules have become more stringent and there are two primary rules that have caught people about. Your passport must be issued less than 10 years before your arrival date (the day you land on holiday) and be valid for three months from the final day of your holiday. UK passports can have more than a 10-year validity if renewed before the last one expires, so be careful of this.

Renewing your passport using the ‘standard’ process for an adult regular-size passport, at the time of publication, should take three weeks and costs £88.50 applying online, £100 if applying on paper by post, and an additional £16 using the Check and Send process at a qualifying Post Office. The wait time varies and you should check online well in advance of your holiday at gov.uk. You can get a passport more quickly but with much higher costs (as much as £217.50) with ‘how to’ details available through the same Gov UK website.

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This is a feature from Issue 23 of Charitable Traveller.
Click to read more from this issue, or more from Ask the Expert

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