Yachting News » Business » UK Passports: Notice to all Captains and Crew

UK Passports: Notice to all Captains and Crew

The Professional Yachting Association (PYA) has issued a notice to all captains, chief officers and pursers with responsibilty for managing crew lists surrounding a number of potential pitfalls for UK travellers to the EU and elsewhere.

Passport renewal dates

Recent reports on BBC News and in magazine and newspaper articles have revealed a little-known side effect of Brexit. Since then, UK passports cannot be more than 10 years old when used to travel to the EU – which means you need to look at the date the passport was issued, rather than the date it expires.

Prior to 2018, a UK passport could be renewed up to nine months before the expiry date. The new passport expiry date would reflect a nine-month “credit”, i.e. the expiry date would be marked as 10 years and nine months after the date of issue. EU countries, with the exception of Ireland, no longer accept passports with an expiry date more than 10 years after the issuance date. EU immigration rules only recognize a passport’s date of expiry in direct relation to its date of issue.

Numerous personal anecdotes posted by individuals and families being caught out by the EU expiry date rule indicate that the number of refused border crossings runs into the hundreds. 

Passport expiry dates 

Notwithstanding a passport’s expiry date being otherwise recognized as valid, the passport of any visitor to the EU must have an expiry date extending at least three months AFTER the planned departure date from the EU. This is a critical factor to be considered before arranging any travel plans which involve entry into the EU.

Note also that many non-EU countries which are frequently visited by yachts have a similar three-month rule (e.g. Panama), or six months (e.g. Egypt, India, Indonesia, Qatar). These time-limit restrictions apply to ALL nationalities. 

Renewing a UK passport

The process for renewal of a UK passport is simple. There is an option for expedited issuance, which requires actual attendance at a given passport office at a specific time and date. Otherwise, the GOV.UK website gives clear steps to follow.

Two points to note are:

(i) the instruction "If you’re applying on behalf of an adult or child, answer these questions with their details rather than your own" is somewhat confusing. There is no separate option for applying for oneself, so just fill in your own details and continue following the succeeding steps.

(ii) if applying from outside the UK, do not waste time chasing around for a photo booth or photo shop looking for a digitally stamped photo – they are not valid for UK passports anyway. Just use your own smartphone to take a selfie, or get a friend to take the photo. Then email it to yourself, to be pasted onto the digital application form. If it is rejected, re-read the instructions about facial expressions, shadows etc., and try again. 

It is the responsibility of each individual to be aware of the validity of their personal travel documents. Yacht officers who prepare documentation such as crew lists to be presented to port or immigration authorities, need also to be aware of passport validity parameters. Any anomalies may complicate the already fraught processes of stamping crew in and out of the EU, delay clearance, and involve fines for the yacht and exclusion from the EU for the individual offender.

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