Britons scramble to get new passports TODAY over fears No Deal Brexit will mean holidaymakers are blocked from entering EU countries if they have less than six months on ID from March 29
- Britons can currently travel to ‘Schengen’ countries with a day left on passports
- But no-deal Brexit will mean at least six months need to be left on the ID to travel
- It takes three weeks to guarantee that a new passport will be delivered
- This means Britons have to book today to ensure they can travel on March 29
British holidaymakers are scrambling to beat today’s passport renewal deadline which could bar them from entering EU countries on March 29’s Brexit date.
While Britons can currently travel to European countries with a passport that expires the next day, a No Deal Brexit will require people to have at least six months left on the ID in order to enter Schengen nations like France and Spain.
And because the Home Office can only guarantee that a new passport will be delivered within a three-week period, today is the last day people can ensure they will be able to travel to the ‘Schenghen’ countries on March 29.
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal – which it is currently on course to do – it will be treated like any other non-EU state.
Citizens from non-EU countries which have not struck travel agreements with the bloc need to have at least half a year left on their passport to enter the Schengen Area.
3.5million passport-holders are being told to renew by the end of today to give them a new one by March 29
This means that people who received their current passport before October 2009 will need to renew it so they do not fall foul of the minimum six-month expiry date.
Popular holiday destinations such as France and Spain are part of the 26-member Schengen club of passport-free checks which could shut its doors to an estimated 3.5 million Britons.
Although you are a guaranteed to receive a new passport within three weeks, those who do not manage to purchase one today may still be able to travel after Britain’s EU departure day if their IDs arrive early, which they sometimes do.
Felipe Rodriguez, of Fly Search Holiday Experts, told MailOnline: ‘What we have been telling people for a while now is you have to make sure you check your passport is valid.
‘I think it could be chaos in airports if people are not aware of it.’
A surge in applications was triggered by consumer group Which? after it said 3.5million Britons with less than six months left on passports could be stopped from entering multiple European countries this summer – including France, Spain and Germany (pictured)
To cause further confusion, any passport holders with up to 15 months validity could also be turned away at an EU border.
This is because of a little known technical issue around the length of time that can be carried over, for someone with a 10-year passport, from a previous passport.
In the past, people could carry over up to nine months, which would mean the passport appears to run for 10 years and nine months.
However, this nine month period will no longer be recognised, which means unless one of these travellers has nine months, plus another six months, to run on their passport, it may be rejected.
A message from a consumer group highlighting the deadline caused a rush of online renewals yesterday.
But the frenzy of activity crashed the government’s website, presenting users with the message: ‘This service is not available. If you don’t want to wait you can apply a different way.’
The website has now been fixed and contingency plans have been made to deal with the increased traffic to the site.
The initial panic to renew passports in time was triggered by a warning from the Which? consumer group that highlighted the looming deadline.
The group estimates that roughly 3.5 million Britons risk being unable to travel to the Schengen zone on March 29 because their passports have less than six months before expiry.
From March 30, UK passports will still be burgundy, but will not be engraved with the words ‘European Union, and blue covers will be issued at an unconfirmed date later this year.
What is the Schengen Area?
The Schengen club comprises 26 European countries which have abolished their internal borders and passport checks for the free and unrestricted movement of people.
The countries include: