Foreign Travel Warnings
Passports and Covid Restrictions
By , 15 April 2021

Potential delays to passport renewals could cause problems for thousands of foreign travellers this summer. HM Passport Office has released a statement warning of heavy delays up to 10 weeks, for standard passport renewals.

As we emerge from the lockdowns and travel restrictions of the past 14 months imposed due to Covid-19, holidaymakers are setting their sights on foreign travel over the summer to try and recapture some normality.

The problem is that not only are there several new rules in place due to Covid, but this is also likely to be many travellers first trip abroad since Brexit, so there are double the number of new rules and guidelines to follow. Couple this with the warning of passport delays and some people may struggle to get away at all.

So, let’s get into some of these issues that could cause headaches for holidaymakers this year, particularly for Europe post Brexit.

Post-Covid Travel Rules

As it stands, there are strict rules in place regarding how and why people can travel abroad from the UK.

It is now legal to travel abroad for a holiday from the UK.

From 17th May, UK holidaymakers have been allowed to travel to certain countries for their vacations.

Since this date, the government has formulated a traffic light system to help distinguish between destination countries that are less risky than others. Foreign countries are separated into three groups:

  • Green: You will not need to quarantine when you return, but you will need to take a pre-departure Covid test and then a PCR test when you return to the UK.
  • Amber: When you return you will need to quarantine for 10 days on top of taking the pre-departure and subsequent PCR tests on days 2 and 8 (can be reduced to 5 if you pay for extra test on this day) of your return.
  • Red: You will need to pay for a 10-day long stay in an official quarantine hotel upon your return and take the pre-departure test and PCR tests when you get back.

Which Countries are on the "Green List"?

Currently, there are only 11 countries and territories on the green list, but more may join after 17th May. These countries/territories are:

Australia, Brunei, Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Iceland, Israel, New Zealand, Singapore, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.

For more info on the green list head to gov.uk to see exact times of when these travel corridors will open up.

The government is constantly updating the number of countries currently on the “red list”. Make sure you look out for updates and check their lists regularly before you travel.

Post-Brexit Travel Rules

Since the UK left the European Union on 31st December 2020, if you plan on travelling to the EU (including Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein) you must make sure that your passport has more than 6 months left on it otherwise you will not be permitted to travel. However, if you’re travelling to the Republic of Ireland, you don’t need to follow this rule.

Passport rules for all other countries, including ones within Europe but outside of the EU, remain the same.

HM Passport Office's recent update about passport renewal updates confirmed that renewing your passport could now take up to 10 weeks.

So, if you were to start the renewal process on 1st May, you could be waiting till 10th July for a new passport to arrive.

Because so few people renewed their passport in 2020 (down to 4 million compared to 7 million in 2019) a huge influx is expected this summer, so to get ahead of it. If your passport has less than 6 months left on it, renew it now.

It’s also important to know that EU countries (excluding Ireland) don’t recognise any extra months that have been previously added to your passport when you renewed early. So, if your passport is older than 9 years and 6 months on the day you plan to travel to Europe, you should get it renewed now.

We've set up a handy tool to help you work out if you need to renew your passport in the coming months, simply fill in you details below to begin:

Eversure Passport Calculator

Due to new rules regarding entry to EU countries (excluding Ireland) from the UK, it's important that you ensure your passport meets the criteria for entrance to EU states. This tool will tell you if your passport will be accepted.

I Don’t Have 10 Weeks – What Can I Do?

If you’ve booked a holiday for less than ten weeks from now and need to renew your passport, then it may not be ready in time for your trip.

There is a passport helpline on (0300 222 0000) but currently this service is only for people travelling for compassionate reasons or urgent work. It’s likely the other premium passport fast track services will reopen this year, but we don’t know when.

It’s worth phoning your holiday provider to explain the situation, to see if your trip can be moved or rescheduled – or failing that, you may have to cancel your trip entirely.

How to Renew Your Passport

If you do need to renew your passport, then you can apply online. It costs £75.50 and you must complete an online form which you can access here.

You can renew via standard post, but it’s unlikely to be any quicker than going online, and costs slightly more at £85.

I'd Like More Information

As you can imagine, the situation is changing quickly and, in some cases, drastically. Some of the best websites to get the most up to date information from regarding foreign travel are listed below, check these regularly if you’re hoping to holiday abroad this summer: