Simon Calder has advised British tourists to « double-check » their passport as five weeks of strikes begin. Workers at the Passport Office are striking over pay and working conditions in a move that could disrupt holidays for Britons.
On ITV’s Lorraine, Simon said: “They (the PCS union) say that these passport officials and other civil servants are on poverty wages and they are demanding that the Government act.
“This is really their chosen campaign and they wanted to get a group of workers where it would have a really significant impact.
“The Government says ‘we’re disappointed in this but we’ve got contingency plans in place and anyway we’ve told you for the last 10 years, you’ve got to allow 10 weeks to get your passport’.
“That hasn’t changed. In fact, it’s actually just been taking a week or two at the start of this year.”
British tourists should leave a 10-week window to receive a new passport under the current Government guidelines.
The Government also says tourists shouldn’t book any holidays until they know their passport is sorted.
Simon shared his advice for worried tourists, saying: “First of all, have a look, check if you need to renew, but then double-check because there’s so much misinformation and people are renewing unnecessarily.”
If too many people try to renew their passports it could worsen queues for tourists who urgently need new ones.
Simon said: “For example, going to America, your passport is valid for up to and including the expiry date. There is no such thing as a six-month rule.
“There are individual countries, Egypt for example, where they say ‘you’ve got to have six months remaining on the day you’re going’.
“For Europe, it’s more complicated and I’ll tell you very quickly what the rules are. Your passport must have been issued in the last 10 years so it can’t have had its 10th birthday and on the day you intend to leave, it must have at least three months left.”
Different countries have their own passport rules and British tourists can find these on the British Government’s Travel Advice website.
Britons travelling to Spain can stay for 90 out of every 180 days and must have at least three months left on their passport from the date they plan to leave Spain.
If British tourists do need to renew their passports before a summer holiday, Simon said there’s no need to use the ‘fast-track’ service.
He said: “If you’re going in the summer, you’ve still got plenty of time to do it online. You’ve got plenty of time.
“Just do it normally, don’t do a fast-track application, save those for people who desperately need to get away.”
Online applications are usually the quickest and are also cheaper than using the postal application service.
Passport prices rose this year and an online application costs £82.50 while a postal application is priced at £93.
A child’s (under 16) passport costs £53.50 to renew online while a postal application costs £64.
British tourists will need to get their passports stamped when they enter and exit the EU under current travel rules.