Passport Office staff will stage a five week walk out from the beginning of April, which is set to have a major impact on Brits applying for new passports. The decision, which is said by the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union to be a "significant escalation" of a dispute over jobs, pay and conditions, will affect more than 1,000 members of staff in seven offices.
The Chronicle Live reports that the impact on the delivery of passports will also be "significant" and, with the Easter holidays fast approaching - and summer holidays only a matter of months away - it will mean more than a million applications could be stuck in the system. But just how might your holiday plans be affected?
The Passport Office has been urging holidaygoers to ensure they have allowed 10 weeks for passport applications to completed and new passports to be sent out. In usual circumstances, if you were to apply for a passport today, it would be expected to arrive at the end of May/beginning of June at the latest.
Read more: Warning to Spanish holidaymakers not to leave their passports with hotel staff
However, if you applied today and included the five-week gap for strike action, your passport would likely arrive towards the end of June. This may not be a cause for panic if you're planning to travel in July or later, however it could still be cutting it close, as demand for new passports only increases.
Whether you have booked to go away or not, the best course of action would be to renew your passport as soon as you possibly can, to ensure you aren't left unable to go on any holidays in the future. It is unlikely that travel insurance would cover you if you needed to cancel or rebook your trip because of passport of visa issues, as most policies require you to have the correct documentation before you take one out.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are disappointed with the union’s decision to strike. We are working to manage the impact of strike action, whilst ensuring we can continue to deliver vital services to the public, with comprehensive contingency plans in place. There are currently no plans to change our guidance which states that it takes up to ten weeks to get a passport.”
Passport expiry dates
It's worth checking the requirements of your chosen destination if you are unsure whether you need to renew your passport. Many travel operators will say that your passport must be valid for at least six months after your intended date of departure, however in some countries - like the EU and Schengen area - this number is just three.
For those countries, passports must be:
Issued less than 10 years before the day of arrival in the EU
Expiry date at least three months from the intended date of departure from the EU
For example, if you’re heading to Tenerife for a family break in August and your passport was issued on 1 July 2013, that is less than 10 years. If it expires on 1 March 2024, that’s more than three months after leaving, so you’ll be fine.
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