With Brexit scheduled for Friday 29 March – and still shrouded in an air of uncertainty – the British passport office have started to contact people via text message to warn them about how the changes may affect any upcoming holidays in EU countries.
The warning comes at a time when it’s becoming more likely that the UK may leave the EU without a deal in place. If that happens, British passport holders would lose their free travel access to countries in the EU and Schengen area. To try and minimise the disruption, travellers who may be affected are receiving text message reminders.
If no deal is reached, British passport holders will need at least six months left on their passport before travelling to other EU countries, perhaps more if their passport was renewed before the ten-year expiry date. The only country that this new rule won’t apply is Ireland, where a common travel area is in place that pre-dates EU rules.
The unexpected text messages caused some people on social media to call them a scam but the Passport Office confirmed on their Twitter account that the messages were genuine. If you’re unsure about whether the new rules will affect you, there is an online calculator you can use to input your passport details and destination. If you will be affected, you are advised to apply for a new one in plenty of time or use the fast track service.
Potential new visa restrictions aren’t the only change expected in the passport system. Any passport issued after the Brexit date will no longer have the term ‘European Union’ on it. New blue passports are also set to be introduced in a phased basis from October 2019. The new design will be the first carbon-neutral passport in the world and will be produced by Dutch company Gemalto and manufactured in France.