Post office tricks travelers on passport information

La Poste provides misleading information on its website regarding the validity of passports for Europe.

The organization says: “You need at least six months on an adult or child passport to travel to most countries in Europe.”

No such rule ever existed, although after Brexit the Foreign Office made a similar claim. The FCDO has since corrected its error and aligned itself with the rules established by the European Commission.

The assertion appears on the Post Office’s website on a page titled “Rules for traveling with a soon to expire passport”.

Further down the page, potential travelers are advised: “For most European countries, the UK Passport Office recommends that on the day of your travel you have at least three months left in your passport.”

This statement may cause confusion because it does not specify whether the “day of travel” is your departure date or your return date (it is the latter).

A UK passport must pass two tests to be valid in the European Union (excluding Ireland) and the wider Schengen area (including Iceland, Norway and Switzerland):

  • It must have an issue date less than 10 years on the day of entry
  • Its expiry date must be at least three months before the scheduled day of your return

The Independent repeatedly asked La Poste to correct its information. Holidaymakers could inadvertently add to the pressure on the HM Passport Office by renewing their documents unnecessarily early.

The Post has a ‘Check and Send’ service for passports, which it promotes by saying: “If you need to renew your passport and you have more than four weeks before you travel, obtain an application form from from your local post office or use our online passport verification and submission process.

As of April 2021, HM Passport Office advises people to allow up to 10 weeks for a new travel document.

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