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Travellers renewing their passports are now getting up to nine months' less validity, after an under-the-radar change to Passport Office rules last week.

The UK Government has now confirmed a change of rules as part of Brexit preparations.

Earlier this month, when renewing your passport, any time left on your existing document would be added to your new one, up to a maximum of nine months. However, on 10 September a new policy means that validity is no longer being carried forward.

This is a particular blow to travellers, as some countries require up to six months' validity left on your passport when visiting. UK passports are usually valid for 10 years, but if travelling to a country which requires you to enter with validity remaining on your passport, you may have no choice but to renew early.

MoneySavingExpert founder Martin Lewis who met Patricia last week at Westminster and who discovered that the UK Tory Government had sneaked in this rule change said:

"The biggest problem with this is many countries do not let you in if you've less than six months on your passport. In fact, we've heard some stories of people being sent home because a child's passport is too close to expiry.

"This change of policy will lead many people to renew later but that runs the risk of being sent home. It looks like the Government has chosen to do this without notifying people and put such a big change in place hoping to sneak it under the radar is plain wrong.

"This affects price, because in effect passports will now only last nine and a half years. But it also runs the risk of ruined holidays and putting many people in a worrying situation. Also, because of the timing which effectively means this shortening will take place over the Brexit period, it's likely we'll see an even bigger build-up of demand before next summer, when there are already long waiting times."

Until 10 September when renewing your passport, any time left on your existing one was added to the new one, up to a maximum of nine months. So, if your current passport was due to expire on 01 March 2019, renewing it would mean the new passport would still expire on 01 March 2029. Now, if your current passport is due to expire on 01 March 2019 and you renewed, your passport would only be valid until September 2028, rather than March 2029.

Patricia Gibson MP, SNP Spokesperson on Consumer Affairs commented:

“Initially, the Home Office refused to confirm that any change had taken place, doing so only three days after the policy came into effect.

“It is shocking that such a change, which will have an impact on millions of UK passport holders was not only sneaked out but initially denied; an indictment of this UK Tory Government’s complete lack of transparency or consideration for the people who travel overseas on business, to visit friends and loved ones or just fancy a break. It is yet another unwanted consequence of Brexit.”

After 29 March 2019, if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal, UK citizens will be considered 'third country nationals' under rules used in the Schengen area, comprising 26 European countries that have abolished passport and all other internal border controls. This means we will need to comply with different rules to enter and travel around the Schengen area.

If you are from a 'third country', you need to have a passport issued in the last 10 years in order to travel to a Schengen country. Under the old rules, where time left on your passport was added to your new one, not everyone with a valid UK passport would have had their passport issued within the past ten years.

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