If you need a new passport it could take 10 weeks
Off to Europe? Make sure you have valid documents. If you don’t, give yourself plenty of time for replacements, says Paul Lewis
If you are planning a trip to Europe this year, there are two vital checks to do first…
Since the UK left the EU, the validity of your passport to travel to the 27 EU states has changed. In the past, if it was valid when you left the UK you could use it to enter Europe. But now there are two other important conditions.
First, it must have at least three months’ validity for the period after you return. So if you go away to France for the whole of August, your passport must be valid until the end of November or you will be refused entry. Second, it is only valid from ten years since it was issued. In the past a UK passport that was renewed would be valid until ten years after the date at which the old one expired. So if you renewed your passport up to nine months before it ran out, then it would in fact be valid for over ten years. However, the EU will now only accept a passport as valid if it was renewed in the last ten years.
Check your passport: if you need a new one apply now (search gov.uk for “passport renewal”). The Government warns it could take ten weeks.
To get medical help in EU countries you need a card called a Global Health Insurance Card or GHIC. This should ensure you get treatment on the same terms and at the same cost – usually free – as nationals of the country you are visiting. The GHIC replaces the former European card EHIC, but covers fewer countries, omitting Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, which are not in the EU. If you already have an old EHIC then you can use it until it expires.
GHICs are free – search “NHS GHIC” online. The Government says you should allow at least three weeks before you travel and there have been reports of longer delays. A GHIC is not a substitute for medical travel insurance.
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Only use the gov.uk or nhs.uk websites to renew a passport or get a GHIC. Other websites will be scams.