Rules For Passports

The rules for travel to most countries in Europe have changed since the UK left the European Union (EU).

Before Brexit, British citizens could travel to any nation in the EU, up to and including the expiry date on their passport. Since Brexit day on 31 December 2020, British citizens are treated the same as any other “third country nationals”.

How many months do I need on my passport?

To enter the EU, you’ll need at least three months left on your passport on the day you plan on leaving the EU. 

The EU’s official website says: “If you are a non-EU national wishing to visit or travel within the EU, you will need a passport:

  • Valid for at least three months after the date you intend to leave the EU country you are visiting
  • Which was issued within the previous 10 years

Why is the ‘issued within the previous 10 years’ part important?

Before Brexit, the Government would issue passports for ten years, plus the extra months of validity left on your old passport, meaning that many passport holders will have a passport that is valid for more than 10 years. 

Now that British passport holders are not EU citizens, these extra months are no longer valid for travel in the EU.

Travellers nearing the end of a passport’s validity who try to travel within these extra “bonus months” could be barred from entering the EU. 

Passport
Having been issued on 12th March 2013, this passport expires on the 12th March 2023, the 'bonus' months until Nov 2023 are not counted by the EU.

If the EU says three months, why does the UK Government advise having six months left on a passport?

Out of an abundance of caution the Government advises travelling with at least six months left on your passport.

This would protect all passengers, even those staying in Europe for the full 90 days allowed for UK tourists, from any chance of overstaying in the EU beyond the three month cut-off point.

EU border agents will quickly do the same maths, theoretically making them less likely to demand evidence of a return ticket to the UK before letting you enter the country. Presuming that you don’t plan on breaking the law by staying in the EU for more than 90 days, they’ll know that you will be home before the three month mark. 

It is always a good practice to aim for six months or more validity left on your passport anyway. Many popular holiday destinations outside the EU, such as Turkey, require a passport that is valid for at least six months from the date you enter.  

Where can I check if my passport is valid for travel?

You can visit the newly relaunched online passport checker on the Home Office website. You’ll need to type in the country you’re visiting, your date of birth and your passport expiry issue and expiry date.

If you want to double check your result, you can visit visaguide.world where they’ve created their own tool that enables UK citizens, as well as other foreign nationals, to check their passport’s validity for travel to the EU. 

What about travel to Ireland?

Ireland is part of the Common Travel Area, meaning that you don’t need a passport at all the enter the republic. However, some airlines do mandate a passport anyway, as a form of ID

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