A passport is a vital document for those looking to travel abroad. As lockdown relaxes and UK holidays are set to restart from July 4, many are hoping foreign holidays will soon return too. However, Britons need to to be very careful when it comes to their passports at this time.
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It’s key you check if your passport has expired before you book your holiday – and Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis has issued a warning to British travellers.
It’s estimated that approximately 500,000 passports expire each month.
During the coronavirus crisis, the Passport Office – which normally issues more than five million passports a year – has greatly reduced its services.
Lewis’ travel advice has cautioned that the renewal process is currently taking longer than the usual three weeks.
One Briton wrote into Money Saving Expert, stating: “Been waiting 13wks. Now looks like our holiday will have to be cancelled, costing us £1,000s.”
The response from Martin Lewis’ website advised: “Passport at or nearing expiry? Renew ASAP.
“The Passport Office is warning, understandably, that renewing is taking longer than the usual 3wks.
“We’re hearing reports that at the extreme, some are taking 3mths or more, while fast-track services and face-to-face appointments are suspended.
“So if you’ve a trip planned later this summer sort it quickly.”
The reply added that not having a passport and being unable to travel “isn’t covered on most travel insurance policies.”
The Passport Office issued advice to Britons on its website.
It warns: “It is taking longer than usual to process applications because of coronavirus (COVID-19).
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“Do not apply unless you’re travelling before September 2020 or you need a passport urgently for compassionate reasons.”
It also cautions: “Do not book travel until you have a valid passport – doing so is at your own risk.
“Your new passport will not have the same number as your old one.”
The pause in operations during lockdown could leave more than a million Britons without a valid passport.
For now, Britons are still not allowed to travel abroad for non-essential travel.
The current COVID-19 Exceptional Travel Advisory Notice states: “The Foreign & Commonwealth Office currently advises British nationals against all but essential international travel.
“This advice is being kept under constant review.”
Britons also still have to quarantine in the UK upon return.
It is not yet known when this rule will be lifted.
To find out more and sign up to Martin Lewis’ weekly newsletter, visit www.moneysavingexpert.com/latesttip
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