There’s been some confusion recently over passport validity for UK citizens travelling to the EU – here’s what you need to check prior to booking your trip to France. Plus, the French news stories you need to know about this week.
1. Brits After Brexit: Is Your Passport Valid?
There have been a few reports recently of travellers with British passports being refused boarding by flight and ferry companies due to the validity of their passports. In particular, the problem stems from confusion over the rules of passport validity post-Brexit.
Since the UK left the EU, British citizens travelling to the EU must now ensure that their passport meets two criteria:
- It must be valid for at least six months at the time of arrival in the EU and/or at least three months after the date they intend to leave the EU country they are visiting.
- It must have been issued within the previous 10 years.
There are two important caveats to be aware of here:
- In relation to the first point: generally speaking, you are required to have six months of validity (i.e. your passport expiry date is longer than six months) when you enter the EU. However, the exact rules vary depending on the country you are visiting. For France, the rules (as stated here) are that your passport must be ‘valid for at least three months after the day you plan to leave’.
This means it may still be possible to travel for a short trip if your passport is up for renewal, but you need to be very careful that the dates line up. You should also be prepared to show proof of the day you intend to leave France (for example, a return flight).
Our advice – especially given the long processing times for British passport renewals at the moment – is not to leave it this long before renewing your passport if at all possible! (more on this in a minute)
- Concerning the second point: most British passports are issued for 10 years, and therefore this rule goes hand-in-hand with the first rule. However, whatever if the difference between the issue date and expiry date on your passport adds up to more than 10 years? This is possible because up until 2018, the UK had a policy of crediting ‘unspent time’ when issuing new passports prior to the expiry date. So, you might find you have a passport which is valid for 10 years and nine months. Therefore it could be both valid for six months and more than 10 years old, therefore causing you to be refused entry even though it appears at first glance that you have enough time left.
In this case, French officials have clarified that your passport must be ‘less than 10 years old on the day you enter France’ (so it does not necessarily need to be less than 10 years old on the day you leave France).
All of this can seem a bit confusing, so our advice is to be prepared – don’t leave this until the last minute to check.
Go get your passport now and check the ‘date of issue’ and ‘date of expiry’. If there is 10 years between them (for example, the issue date is May 2022 and the expiry date is May 2032), then make a note to renew your passport about nine months before the expiry date (using the above example, this would be August 2031).
Why nine months? Because you need a full six months validity to travel unrestricted to the EU, and currently, UK passport renewals are taking an average of 10 weeks (check the latest processing times here), which makes a total of eight and a half months – and you’ll need that extra two weeks to organise the dreaded passport photos and complete the online application!!
If the date of issue and date of expiry do not match, then you should count nine months back from the date of issue instead.
Passport changes aren’t the only differences for UK citizens travelling to France since Brexit – use our handy checklist to make sure you’re covered: Everything You Need for Post-Brexit Travel Between France & UK.
Remember, if you are a British citizen living in France, it’s also important to keep your passport up to date when travelling throughout the EU. Read our guide to Renewing Your UK Passport in France.
2. May Day Troubles
Last Sunday was May 1st or May Day, which, unfortunately for French residents, fell on a weekend this year, meaning that there was no jour férié (public holiday) for workers in France. This didn’t stop protesters from coming out in force for the ‘Fête du Travail’ or ‘workers’ holiday’, which is traditionally a day of demonstrations, especially for France’s trade unions.
In Paris, the main march, which was organised by the trade unions in response to the worsening standards of living in France and Macron’s proposed raising of the pension age, was peaceful, as were the many marches and demonstrations held in other cities around France. However, a small group of protestors in Paris clashed with police as they vandalised a number of banks, real estate agencies, and shops around the capital, as well as setting street fires and, on one occasion, assaulting a fireman. The incidents led to 54 arrests being made.
The next public holiday in France is this weekend on May 8th. The ‘Victoire de 1945’, which celebrates the end of WWII and victory in Europe, also falls on a Sunday, meaning there is no bank holiday, but military parades and remembrance ceremonies are typically held around the country.
3. Benefits and SMIC rises
May 1st sees a number of rises due to inflation, most notably a 2.65% rise in the national minimum wage, known as SMIC in France. The gross hourly minimum wage in France from now on will be €10.85 (instead of €10.57).
Accordingly, this month marks a 1.8% increase in benefits such as the family allowance, disabled allowance, and the RSA, as well as the annual school grants (issued in August in time for La Rentrée), which will increase to €376.98 (children aged 6-10), €397.78 (children aged 11-14), and €411.56 (children aged 15-18).
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