I’m taking a three-week trip to the USA next year, returning to the UK on 28th March, but my British passport expires on the 14th April. A relative has told me that the US authorities insist passports are valid for six months from the return date, meaning I’ll need to get it renewed before I go. Is this correct? Jane, Newton Abbot

The six-months rule only applies to foreign nationals entering the USA who are not entitled to use the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation, or ESTA for short. That’s the new on-line visa waiver process for America, where you apply for authorisation to travel before you leave. It’s valid for two years and allows you to visit the States for up 90 days at a time – as long as your passport is valid. British passport holders are eligible for this system, so you don’t need to worry about renewing your passport before you go.

But remember, there’s still plenty of time to renew your passport if you want. You can apply up to 90 days before the old one expires without losing any of the existing time on it. And the new online renewal process is very quick and easy – you can even upload a photo from your smartphone so no embarrassing trip to the Post Office photobooth!

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