Brits urged to renew old passports in case of a no-deal Brexit
Brits who are planning to head to the EU with less than six months left on their passport must renew them or face being turned away at the border if there is a no-deal Brexit, the Government has warned.
Ministers said the UK would have ‘third country’ status if it crashes out of the EU next year without a Brexit deal - and will only be able to spend 90 days on the continent without a special visa.
However they warned that the criteria could be that Brits need up to six months on their passports to travel to the EU's border control-free Schengen area - and urged them to act quickly as passport offices get busy in the spring.
The warning came as the Department for Exiting the European Union released the second batch of papers advising what to do if the UK leaves the EU without a Brexit deal.
The paper on travel documents said the borderless Schengen zone would only accept third country visitors who hold passports that are less than ten years old and have at least three - or possibly six - months validity.
“If your passport does not meet these criteria, you may be denied entry to any of the Schengen area countries, and you should renew your passport before you travel,” the document said.
“If you are planning travel after 29 March 2019, and your passport will be affected by the new validity rules, we recommend you consider renewing your passport soon to avoid any delay, as the passport issuing service can get busy, especially in the spring.”
Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania are not in the Schengen zone - so UK nationals would have to check the rules for those countries as usual.
Ireland is also not part of the Schengen agreement either, but UK nationals can currently travel there without a passport.
Meanwhile, another ‘technical notice’ warned that UK driving licenses will no longer be automatically valid in EU countries in the case of a no-deal Brexit.
Drivers planning a short trip to the continent would need a £5.50 permit, available from Post Offices on demand.
But those looking to move abroad would need to trade their UK licence in for one from their host country and may need to take another test.
Elsewhere, the no-deal papers warned that car manufacturers faced a swamp of fresh regulations over safety certificates for new and existing products if they want to maintain trade with the continent after a no-deal Brexit.
And they said the UK would be booted out of the EU Space Surveillance and Tracking programme, meaning it would not have access to information about space debris colliding with satellites or falling back down to earth.
Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer said: “A no deal Brexit would be catastrophic for people’s jobs, the economy and for the border in Northern Ireland.
“We are less than 200 days until we leave the European Union and the Government still has no credible plan for Brexit.
"The Cabinet should be planning to negotiate a good deal for Britain, not planning for failure or blaming businesses for the Government’s chaos.
“The only reason the Government is talking about no deal is because the Tory civil war on Europe prevents the Prime Minister from negotiating a good deal.
“With the clock ticking, Ministers should drop the irresponsible rhetoric and start putting jobs and the economy first.”