Devastated family left £3,000 out of pocket as Brexit passport rule destroys holiday

A little-known Brexit passport rule left a family with £3,000 out of pocket when they were unable to travel overseas. Nina Gurd has been told she cannot board a flight to Portugal due to her passport expiring in February next year.

The decision to ban Ms Gurd from travel stems from a post-Brexit rule for entry into a group of European countries. She had gone to the airport confident that she had more than the required three months before the expiration date.

It had been extended when she renewed her passport, reports The Mirror. But according to Ms Gurd, the expiry date was irrelevant, she told the BBC.

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“The lady at Bournemouth airport said it had to be within 10 years of the date of issue,” she explained. Ms Gurd’s passport was originally issued on May 29, 2012, so it should have expired next month. However, she had renewed it early, meaning another nine months were added, giving it a new expiry date of February 28, 2023.

Ms Gurd, her husband John and their three sons Jack, Harry and Charlie were forced to return home to Botley, Hampshire, on April 15, missing their holiday in the Algarve. She said: “When we were booking our holidays, we were only asked for our passport numbers and expiry dates, nothing else. But the expiry date apparently makes no sense.”

The Gurd family found out the hard way that passport expiration dates are ‘seemingly meaningless’

Portugal is one of the 26 European countries in the Schengen area of ​​free movement. For many years, until September 2018, the UK had a generous policy of giving credit for “unspent” time when renewing a passport, issuing documents valid for up to 10 years and nine months.

So a passport issued on October 31, 2012 could show an expiry date of July 31, 2023. That was fine in Europe and around the world for a decade – until Brexit, after which a long-standing rule came into effect. vigor. Now some EU countries in the Schengen area insist on passports not to be more than 10 years old from the point of issue.

Once the three-month expiration stamp is taken into account, a passport must have been issued no more than nine years and nine months ago. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said advice on its website had for several years warned travelers that they could face problems if they had a passport that lasted more than 10 years.

But Mr Gurd said the advice was “all incredibly vague”. “Given that there is this new rule, it should be quite easy for the government, travel agencies and airlines to ask the right questions. It should be reported,” he added.

“We need to get the message across that in fact your passport expiry date doesn’t make sense.”

The Travel page of the European Union’s Your Europe website explains: “If you are a non-EU national wishing to visit or travel within the EU, you will need a passport that is valid for at least three months after the date you intend to leave. the EU country you are visiting, which was issued within the last 10 years. »

The time you need on your passport depends on the country you are visiting. Holidaymakers are advised to consult the travel advice of the country they are visiting before going abroad.

For missed flights, you may be able to claim denied boarding compensation (either £220 or £350, depending on the length of the flight) and associated costs – for example booking another flight on a competing airline, or for wasted car rental and non-recoverable hotel expenses.

For British visitors to Ireland, there are no limits to passport validity. This is because a passport is not legally required for British travelers to the republic, although some airlines do require it. Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania have identical rules to those of the Schengen area: passport issued within the last 10 years, and with three months of validity remaining on the day of leaving the country. But time spent in one of these countries does not contribute to the “90/180” day total.

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