Get ready for your summer holidays now – that’s the message from ABTA. The travel association is encouraging families to take steps now to check their passports and other documents so that their trips aren’t ruined.
It will be the first summer people have had a real opportunity to travel since the UK left the EU. And, as Europe is the most popular location for overseas trips each summer, ABTA says there are some differences that people need to be aware of and prepare for.
Holidaymakers need to check their passport will be valid as, when travelling to the EU, your passport can’t be older than 10 years when entering the country and you need to have at least three months left on your passport from the date you return.
With the Passport Office advising that it could take up to 10 weeks for a passport application to be processed, ABTA is encouraging anyone who needs a new passport for travel this summer to apply as soon as possible – particularly if they are a family due to travel at the start of the school summer holidays. In many parts of the country, school summer holidays begin in just over 10 weeks.
Holidaymakers going to Europe should also check whether they have a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which gives access to state medical care in the country they’re visiting and take out travel insurance.
Those who need to renew or apply for a new health card can get a Global Health Insurance Card, which replaced the EHIC when the UK left the EU. Other rule changes include possible charges when using your mobile phone abroad and new documentation when travelling with pets.
This summer is expected to be the busiest holiday season since the start of the pandemic and new figures from ABTA show that families are leading the charge, with 70% saying they have a holiday abroad booked this year and ABTA Members report that breaks to Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Portugal are proving popular.
To help people prepare for their holiday ABTA has issued some advice on checking and renewing their passport and is also directing people to its holiday checklist (abta.com/getreadyfortravel), which will guide them through everything they need to know about heading abroad this summer.
Graeme Buck of ABTA said: “Now is the time to start preparing for your summer trip. Things have changed now that we’ve left the EU and it does take time to get paperwork in order, like renewing your passport or getting a Global Health Insurance Card.
“So our message to holidaymakers is don’t delay – get the boring but necessary bits done now so that you can focus on the fun parts in the run up to your holiday, like planning what you want to see and do.”
Some holiday destinations still have Covid rules and entry requirements in place so it’s important that travellers check the travel advice for their destination and sign up to email alerts for their destination at www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
ABTA’s guide to checking and renewing your passport:
Your passport cannot be more than 10 years old when entering an EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland – so check when your passport was issued and when it is due to expire.
Most places in Europe will require you to have a least three months left on your passport on the date of departure from your destination – check the government travel advice for the passport rules for your destination at gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
If you need to renew – do it early. The Passport Office is advising it could take up to 10 weeks to process a passport renewal or application from the UK. Remember –passports for under 16s are only valid for five years, so check when they are up for renewal.
It is cheaper to renew online than via the post.
Check the Passport Office photo guidance to get your digital photo right.
Make sure you have all your documents to hand – you’ll need to send your old passport back and look at the counter signatory criteria to see if you need to confirm your identity.
You can get help in applying for your passport at some Post Office branches, either through the Digital Check & Send service or the Paper Check & Send service.
There is also a fast-track passport application service available – full details can be found here.
Apply today or find out more at Renew or replace your adult passport: Overview – GOV.UK (gov.uk).