Expert warns Brits to ‘beware of copycat websites’

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Passport office workers are due to go on strike from April 3 to May 5, in a move that could jeopardise holidays for some Britons. Cody Candee, a travel expert at luggage storage company Bounce, shared his advice for Britons who need to renew their passport.

Beware of copycat websites

Cody said: “There are a variety of websites that imitate official Government websites for passport applications.

“These websites attempt to charge users £20 – £100 on top of the official passport fee, by offering additional ‘validation’ services. When applying for a new passport, be cautious of these types of websites, and be sure only to use trusted sources.”

Scam websites might try to take advantage of worried travellers. It costs £82.50 to renew a passport online and Britons should use the Government’s online renewal service.

Online renewals are generally quicker but tourists can also use the paper application service for a passport. The Post Office has a Check and Send service which costs £93.

When to renew?

Cody said: “With the cost of fast-tracking a new passport significantly more expensive than standard applications, we recommend renewing your passport well in advance.

“If you have less than six months validity, we recommend applying for a new passport immediately.

“Not only are processing times currently around ten weeks, but as travel is back on the cards for many following the pandemic, the Home Office is predicting another massive year for renewals.”

Although there is a fast-track service for passports, it’s a lot more expensive than using the regular service. The Home Office has said there is currently a 10 week waiting period for passports, although this could change if the strikes have a big impact.

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Travel expert Simon Calder has said tourists shouldn’t renew their passport too early as it could create more chaos.

Check that your passport is valid

Cody said: “If may sound obvious, but if you’re travelling abroad you must make sure that your passport is valid for the entire duration of your trip.

“Not only should your passport be valid for your departure date, but many countries require your passport to be in date for at least six months after your arrival. This remains true, even if you’re visiting for a day.”

British tourists travelling to EU countries such as Spain, France and Portugal will need to have at least three months left on their passport from the date they leave the EU.

To enter the EU or Schengen Area, British tourists will also need to have had their passport issued less than 10 years before their date of arrival.

British tourists can check the entry requirements for their destination on the British Government Foreign Travel Advice website.

Check your blank pages

Cody added: “If you run out of blank passport pages, you will have to renew your passport sooner than your renewal date.

“Some countries, such as Italy, require a fully blank visa page for valid entry, while others, such as South Africa require at least two.”

This problem is likely to impact only the most frequent travellers but it’s still important to check there are enough blank pages.

British tourists will need to get their passport stamped on entry and exit from the EU and other destinations.

Britons can stay in the EU for 90 days out of every 180 without needing a visa and could be fined or face severe penalties for overstaying that limit.

In 2024, the EU is planning to introduce a new border system which Britons will need to pay a small fee for.

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