MONEY Saving Expert Martin Lewis has warned Brits to renew their passports now, or risk missing out on their long-awaited summer holidays.
While a trip abroad has not been given an official start date, the government is no longer warning families against bookings holidays.
A holiday abroad could resume from May 17, through the government's traffic light system for low-risk "green" countries although this is yet to be confirmed.
However, Brits should check their passports as they may find themselves unable to go on holiday.
Due to the pandemic, passport renewals have dropped off with just four million people applying in 2020 compared to seven million in a normal year.
The government is expecting a huge surge in cases when holidays are given an official start date – meaning waiting times for a new document as long as 10 weeks instead of the usual six weeks.
This means, if you applied for a passport today, you may not get it back until late June.
According to Martin Lewis, it is worth applying online, which is quicker than post, and to check if your application can be fast tracked.
While the normal fast track option is not available for holiday reasons, circumstances such as compassionate reasons such as medical care or for the death of someone, for work reasons or for proof of identity such as jobs or mortgages.
Director General of Her Majesty's Passport Office, Abi Tierney, said: "It is vital those who may need to apply for a new passport do so now. If you have delayed renewing your passport or are applying for the first time, please apply now so you can receive it in good time."
“Our dedicated staff work tirelessly to ensure that passport applications are processed as quickly as possible.
“This new advice will help to ensure that we continue to meet the travel plans of our customers during any period of the very highest passport demand.
"Her Majesty’s Passport Office will be sending text messages to people whose passports are nearing expiration to let them know to allow more time when they renew.”
Families also cannot book holidays without a valid passport as the new passport will have a different number.
Renewing passports can be done online via the gov.uk website or via a paper form.
The fee rose in 2018 to £75.50 for online applications and £85 for postal applications.
Charges for children's passports also went up from £46 to £49 online and £58.50 in the post.
Here is everything you need to know about applying for a passport, including who can counter-sign passports.
UK passports are now blue after the country left the EU – but there are only four passport colours in the world.
Brits may also need vaccine passports to go on holiday this year, Boris Johnson has warned.
Countries such as Spain, Greece and Portugal want vaccinated Brits back, offering restriction-free travel for tourists with both jabs this summer.
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