Foreign Office warns Brits to ‘make sure’ passports meet new rules after travel ‘carnage’

Simon Calder says passport checker caused ‘carnage’

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The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has updated its travel advice for Britons heading to Europe with a new passport warning. It comes just days after the Government had to remove its online “passport checker” due to a glitch that sparked “carnage” for holidaymakers.

In its most recent update, the FCDO urges Britons to “make sure” their passport meets the latest requirements for travel.

The update was shared to multiple travel advice pages for countries including popular holiday destinations such as Italy, Spain and France.

It states: “Check your passport is valid for travel before you book your trip, and renew your passport if you do not have enough time left on it.

“Make sure your passport is valid for at least three months after the day you plan to leave [the destination] or any other Schengen country.”

Passports should also be “less than 10 years old”.

The FCDO adds: “The three months you need when leaving a country must be within 10 years of the passport issue date.”

It continues: “If you renewed your current passport before the previous one expired, extra months may have been added to its expiry date.

“Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the minimum three months needed.”

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While travel is still restricted under coronavirus regulations, thousands of Britons jetted off over the weekend.

Many were left flummoxed when trying to use the online passport checker to confirm their passport’s validity – particularly those travelling with children.

Families who were due to depart on holiday were sent into panic mode when the Government website told them their children’s passports would not be accepted into European Union (EU) countries with their passports.

Travel expert Simon Calder described the aftermath of this mistake as “carnage” for travellers.

“It was extraordinary at the weekend,” he told Sky News.

“The numbers weren’t huge travelling but they’re still bigger than they had been all through the year, and around about lunchtime on Saturday I had parents contacting me on social media saying, ‘Help our kids’ passports are no longer valid for travel in Europe.”

However, when Mr Calder double-checked the date of issue for these passports, he found them all to be valid in accordance with EU and UK guidelines.

“Since Brexit, it’s got a lot more complicated in terms of passport validity,” he explained.

“The general rule is that your passport must be valid for at least three months after you intend to come back.

“The Government’s passport checker system – I’ve already been talking to them since the start of the year about how deeply flawed it is for adult passports.

“It was then just randomly telling parents that their kids passports weren’t valid there were people booking flights to Belfast from London because it’s the only place they could get a fast track appointment.

“[It was] absolute carnage.”

On Sunday, the online checker was taken down by the Government while the glitch was fixed.

The tool has since been reinstated, with the link updated to travel advice pages.

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