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Brits in France: What to do if you're still waiting for your passport to be renewed

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 24 Oct, 2022 Updated Mon 24 Oct 2022 12:45 CEST
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Long waits to renew UK passports have left many Brits in France without a valid passport - so what can you do if this happens to you?


In recent months chaos at the UK Passport Office means that many people face long waits to get their passport renewed.

Since the process involves sending back the old passport, long delays mean weeks or even months without a valid passport. In the worst cases, people have reported that their old passport has expired while they were waiting for the new one.

This affects both Brits living in the UK and those around the world, including France. Those living outside the UK use a slightly different system when their passport needs renewing - this used to be quicker than the UK-based service, but in recent months it seems to have fallen victim to the general chaos at the UK Passport Office.


Readers of The Local across Europe have told of months-long waits, documents failing to arrive, an inability to track applications and applications simply being lost. 

So what does this mean for your ability to travel?

Dual nationals

If you are a dual national and are also the citizen of an EU country which issues ID cards, you can use your ID card to travel within the Schengen zone. However, ID cards are no longer accepted for travel into the UK.

If you are a dual national and have two passports, you can of course use your other passport to travel anywhere in the world. However, if you are going to the UK and show only, for example, a French passport you will be treated as a French national and may have to prove your reason for entry and give undertakings that you will not work or stay for a long period. 

Everyone else

But for people who only have citizenship of the UK, no longer having a valid UK passport is a more serious problem, since you need it to cross international borders.

Travel within the Schengen zone in practice involves few border checks, but technically you need a valid passport to cross even EU borders if you are not an EU citizen.

If you are not an EU citizen and live in France, then you will likely have a Titre de séjour residency card - while this can be used to prove ID, such as when you need to pick up a parcel at the post office, it is not a travel document and cannot be used instead of a passport.

When coming in and out of France - especially from an external EU border like that between France and the UK - you will be required to show a valid passport, and if you are a resident you also show your Titre de séjour to prove that you are a resident and don't need your passport stamping.

Sometimes border agents only ask to see the Titre de séjour, but usually you will need to show a passport as well and border guards are entirely within their rights to refuse you entry to the country if you cannot present a valid passport. You will also find it difficult to book certain types of transport within being able to provide a valid passport number.

Emergency passport

So what happens if you need to travel urgently and your passport has still not arrived?

It is possible to get an emergency passport if you need to travel for an urgent reason and if you have previously held a UK passport, are outside the UK and "your passport has been lost, stolen, damaged, is full, has recently expired or is with HM Passport Office or a foreign embassy".


You will usually need to provide proof of pre-booked travel and the urgent reason for your trip.

You can apply online here, and then you may need to go to your nearest British Embassy or consulate to pick up the document, which may mean a trip to Paris to the British Embassy.

What you get isn't the same as a normal passport, it's a time-limited document allowing you to travel on a pre-agreed route - if your travel plans change after getting the emergency passport, you will need to apply for a new one.

It's really intended for UK residents who get stranded abroad, so if you need to use it for a trip to the UK and then you intend to come back to France, you need to make it clear that France is your final destination - otherwise British border officials will keep the document when you arrive in the UK.  

Is there anything you can do to speed up the UK passport office?

If there is, we haven't found it - please feel free to leave tips in the comment box below, or email [email protected] 

Other than the standard advice of making sure all your documents are correct when you apply and not leaving it until the last minute, there doesn't seem to be a trick to avoid delays. Remember that, since Brexit, your passport will need to have at least three months left on it in order to enter most EU countries.


The UK passport office says the current wait time is 10 weeks, but many people have reported longer waits.

The passport office offers several 'fast-track' options (for extra money, obviously) but there doesn't seem to be much evidence that using these avoids the delays altogether. 

'Seven complaint emails' - My fourth-month ordeal of trying to renew a UK passport



The Local 2022/10/24 12:45

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