Martin Lewis slams 'systemic failings' at the passport office
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During his show, The Martin Lewis Money Show Live Special, a viewer asked about passport delays ahead of the summer holidays. The money expert started by urging holidaymakers to check their passport expiry date “or you won’t be allowed in some countries”.
He explained: “Passports: check if you have six months left / under 10 years old when you travel.
“Since Brexit, even EU counties require three months left and under 10 years.”
Martin continued: “Beware they are major delays at the passport office which is why you should be doing your checks now.
“There is a huge backlog, some experiencing big renewal delays so sort ASAP.”
During the show, a viewer explained he is going on holiday in June but he hasn’t heard from the passport office yet. Martin advised: “Look, the best advice is to wait.
“I know he has done everything he could… your travel insurance won’t cover you if you don’t have a passport because you are meant to have one.”
However, Martin advised holidaymakers to call their travel insurance to find out if there is something they can do.
He said: “Speak to them and explain the situation if they say ‘Look I can offer you vouchers’, don’t get angry with them because you don’t have any rights. That’s better than nothing… take whatever they’ll give you!”
Martin continued: “If you have applied for a passport and it hasn’t arrived in time you may have some compensation from the passport office but it is unlikely it will cover your entire holiday.”
This is why Martin recommended getting travel insurance “ASAB” or “as soon as you book”, and advised to use comparison websites to find the most suitable for you.
He explained on his site: “If you can’t go on your trip because you don’t have a valid passport, you’re NOT entitled to a refund from travel providers, as they’re still offering the service you booked.
“Airlines and hotels don’t have to give refunds in these circumstances (just like you breaking your arm doesn’t mean you’ve a right to a refund on a tennis racket).
“The exception is if you were promised the right to cancel and get a refund while booking – for example, if you booked a fully-flexible flight or a cancellable hotel booking.
“Depending on when you booked, you may be covered by the firm’s pandemic-related flexibility policy – check your travel provider’s website and your original booking confirmation.
“But even if your booking wasn’t flexible, it’s still worth contacting your holiday provider to explain the situation to see if it can help. It’s possible that some travel firms, airlines or hotels may let you move your trip or offer vouchers to show forbearance’, even though they’re not obliged to.
“If you’re in this position, it’s best to take whatever the firm offers, whether it’s a change of dates, voucher or credit note, as it’s better than what you’re entitled to legally (which is nothing),” he said.
The money saving expert also talked about health cover abroad and advised viewers to check if their Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is expired as 5.6 million cards are expiring this year.
Martin explained why it is essential holidaymakers have one when they travel abroad: “If you have one you will pay the same as a local at an EU hospital or GP if you need treatment.
“So if it’s free for the locals it’s free for you.”
He said all travellers need to do to get one is “go to the NHS website”, but people should be “really careful” as some sites will try to charge you for this and “you don’t need to pay for one,” he explained.
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