Passport holders lose 567 million days

12 Apr 2019 New research from Direct Line Travel Insurance reveals British Passport holders have collectively lost 567 million days of valid travel since new rules came into effect that stop any remaining time on an old passport being carried over at renewal.  As a result of passport holders renewing before their passports ran out, often because countries demand six months validity to let someone into a country, the equivalent of 155,000 10-year passports have been wasted.

On average, passport holders have 159 days left on their travel document when they renew, or just over five months.  Analysing the money spent buying ‘valid travel time,’ reveals that collectively passport holders have wasted £13.3 million when renewing their documents in just six months. Prior to September 2018, any remaining months (up to nine) on an old passport would be automatically added to a new passport. Now, however, time left on an old passport will not be added to a new one.

Of those who haven’t renewed their passports in the last two years, 1.5 million (five per cent) have less than six months remaining. These people may be in for a nasty surprise if travelling to the Schengen area of Europe in the event of a no deal Brexit, as current travel advice suggests that Schengen countries will require a minimum of six months left on British passports from the date of arrival. This includes countries like France, Italy, Spain and Germany.

Tom Bishop, Head of Travel Insurance at Direct Line commented: “The changes to the time carried over onto new passports have taken many people by surprise.  In many cases a 10-year passport is only useful for nine and a half years as so many countries require six months validity to let someone in.  It is a difficult balancing act, passport holders won’t want to waste remaining time on an old passport by getting a new one too early, but in many cases, holidaymakers will need to ensure they have at least six months validity before travelling.”

27.4 million people (53 per cent of UK adults), are planning a trip to a country that would require more than six months remaining on a passport in the coming year, with over a third (36 per cent) planning to visit a Schengen EU country, where they would need six months passport validity in the event of a no deal Brexit.

Why six months passport validity matters

In the 12 months leading to October 2018 46.3 million trips4 abroad were made by Brits on holiday, of which 77 per cent (35.7 million) were to the Schengen area. Over the last five years, the number of trips made by Britons to the Schengen area on holiday has increased by 7.3 million, or 26 per cent, while there has been a 290,000 increase (six per cent) in trips made to other countries requiring a minimum of six months on a UK passport to enter.

Between October 2017 and October 2018, 5.1 million holidays were made by Brits to non-European countries requiring a minimum of six months on a UK passport to enter, with the USA (2.2 million), Turkey (one million), UAE (560,000), Thailand (305,000) and India (213,000) being the most popular destinations.

Under the new rules in event of a no deal Brexit, nine of the top 10 countries visited by Brits last year will require a minimum of six months validity on a passport.  The Republic of Ireland will be the only destination that does not require six months on British passports to allow entry.Table one: Passport validity for top 10 visited countries by British tourists

Rank Country Number of visits from UK tourists from October 2017-2018 Require six months validity on UK passports
1 Spain 13,824,626 Yes
2 France 5,899,321 Yes
3 Italy 3,044,293 Yes
4 Portugal 2,270,122 Yes
5 USA 2,196,351 Yes
6 Greece 2,194,233 Yes
7 Netherlands 1,604,202 Yes
8 Germany 1,185,145 Yes
9 Irish Republic 1,160,424 No
10 Turkey 1,025,378 Yes

Source: Direct Line Travel Insurance, 2019

Bishop continued: “With the Brexit process and timeline continually changing, the best advice for anyone going on holiday this year is to make sure they have at least six months remaining on their passport. Even just popping over to France on the Eurostar could require six months validity in the event of a no deal Brexit so it’s better to be safe than sorry. It is always sensible to make sure a passport has enough time on it before even booking a holiday, just in case.

“With all the changes happening due to Brexit, it has never been more important to make sure you have a comprehensive travel insurance policy that covers you for any health-related concerns, as EHIC card will not be valid under a no-deal Brexit.”

For a full list of passport rules in relation to Brexit, visit the Government website https://www.gov.uk/guidance/passport-rules-for-travel-to-europe-after-brexit

Other travel changes in the event of a no deal Brexit include:

  • At border control you may need to show a return or onward ticket, show you have enough money for your stay and/or use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queuing
  • Your European Health Insurance Card which entitles you to state provided healthcare may not be valid so comprehensive travel insurance becomes even more important
  • If you are taking your vehicle abroad, you will need a green card from your car insurance company, a GB sticker for your car and an International Driving Permit (IDP)
  • If travelling with a pet, contact your vet at least four months beforehand as current EU pet passports will not be valid. A blood test will need to be carried out with results verified by an EU approved laboratory and owners must wait three months from the date of a successful blood sample taken before travelling 
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