Sunday, 3 Mar 2024

I had to pay £3,000 because of a little-known passport rule

I had to pay £3,000 and drive 1,000 miles to Croatia to join my family on holiday because of a little-known passport rule

  • Peter Holt, 50, said he spent two days driving more than 1,100 miles to his family
  • He was turned away from the boarding gate for having an expired passport
  • The Surrey father says he didn’t know Brexit had changed EU travelling rules

A father-of-three says he was forced to pay £3,000 and drive more than 1,100 miles across six countries in order to join his family holiday after falling victim to a little-known passport rule. 

Peter Holt, 50, says he was one of three people turned away at the boarding gate for a flight to Croatia from the UK after he was told his passport was out of date, despite it not expiring until next year. 

Before the UK left the EU, valid British passport holders could freely travel across the EU even if it expired the day after their return. 

But since 2021, UK passport holders travelling to any EU country will be denied entry ten years after their passport was issued, even if it still has extra months left.

Peter got his passport in July 2013 and was able to carry over unexpired months, giving the expiry of March 2024.

Peter Holt, 50, was forced to watch his family fly to Croatia without him as he had tried travelling on an expired passport

He took his Mini Cooper though six countries over two days, eventually reuniting with his family

The determined dad drove his car from Surrey to Croatia over two days, covering more than 1,100 miles

But post-Brexit rules, which he had no idea about, brought this forward to July 2023.

The financial planning consultant watched on in dismay as his wife Claire, 46, took their two sons Rocky, eight, and Axel and Hunter, both six, and flew to Croatia on an easyJet flight.

He says that no one had flagged his passport issue until he was at the airport.  

‘We had booked the holiday in February, and it said nothing about an issue with the passport then.

‘I had my boarding pass, been through bag check, passport control, yet now at the final stage I was turned away,

‘It just didn’t – and still doesn’t – make sense.’

His family were overjoyed to see him again, after they were separated for several days

‘We had booked the holiday in February, and it said nothing about an issue with the passport then,’ Peter said

The determined dad, from Surrey, was forced to drive his Mini Cooper 1,102 miles to Croatia, cutting through France, Germany, Austria and Slovenia before finally joining his family two days later in Croatia. 

‘I bought my ticket to pass through the Channel Tunnel and set off on my journey,

‘The crazy thing is both the English and French border control teams at the crossing accepted my passport adding further mystery to the tale.’

Peter drove around 500 miles on the first day of his journey stopping in Strasbourg, France at 10pm at a Hilton hotel.

He turned on Find My iPhone tracking services so his family could follow him on his continental journey.

The British dad went through France, Germany, Austria and Slovenia before finally joining his family two days later in Croatia

‘The trip was fantastic, the roads were smooth, the scenery was fantastic, and driving through mainland Europe was just beautiful,’ he said

He says the pan-European road trip cost him an additional £3,000 due to hotels, food and crossing fees

He then drove the remaining 608 miles through Germany, Austria, and Slovenia in 12 hours to meet his family at their hotel in Pula at 8pm.

‘My kids, wife, and I were just elated that I had made it there in such a short period, of time’ he said.

‘And to only miss two days of our two-week holiday was just brilliant.’

While he missed out on some of his holiday, he managed to get a spot of sightseeing in. 

He said: ‘As sad as the situation was, the trip was fantastic, the roads were smooth, the scenery was fantastic, and driving through mainland Europe was just beautiful.

‘I saw signs for places I had seen on the TV like France’s Champagne regions and the Allianz Arena in Munich, I just wish I could have stopped off.’

He is now warning other holidaymakers to check the expiry dates on their passports, as his pan-continential journey cost him an additional £3,000 in crossing fees, food and hotels. 

‘I am glad to have made it, but the situation was just so unnecessary,’ he said.

‘I just wish someone, be it easyJet or the UK Passport Office, would have let me know.’

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