New EU passport rules explained

EU Brexit passport rules
By Linsey McNeill
Home » New EU passport rules explained

There have been so many questions from agents about the new rules for passports since Britain left the EU that we thought it would be a good idea to write a detailed explanation.

First of all, the new rules explained below refer only to passports for travel to the European Union plus Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City. However, they don’t apply for travel to Ireland as it has a separate travel agreement with the UK.

Different rules apply for travel to other destinations, including Turkey. For all countries outside the EU, it’s best to check passport rules with the Foreign Office.

Also, worth noting are that the new rules for travel to the EU are exactly the same for both adult and child passports.

EU passport rule #1

The first new rule for travel to the EU is that UK passports must be no more than 10 years old at the date of arrival in the EU.

This is important because, before 2018, adults who renewed their passports before they had expired would have had up to nine unused months added to their new passports. This means that some passports are valid for up to 10 years and nine months, but British citizens can no longer enter the EU with a passport that’s more than 10 years old.

Some people are concerned that if their passport was issued for more than 10 years it won’t be valid for travel to the EU, but this isn’t the case. It’s okay to travel to the EU with a passport that was issued for any length of time, as long as it is no more than 10 years old at the date of entry.

Children aren’t affected by the 10-year-rule since children’s passports are renewed every five years.

EU passport rule #2

Passports must be valid for at least another three months on the intended date of departure from the EU. A few EU countries require six months validity so it’s important to check country-specific advice with the Foreign Office.

Crucially, it doesn’t matter if the passport will be more than 10 years old on the date of departure since rule number 2 is separate from rule number 1. What’s important here is that the passport has at least three months left until its expiry date, regardless of its age.

In short…for travel to the EU you need to check both the issue date to make sure that it will be no more than 10 years old at the time of entry to the EU, and the expiry date to make sure there will be at least three months left at the end of the trip.

What are airline passport rules?

Airlines must follow the above rules, but several, including easyJet and Ryanair, misunderstood the entry criteria when it was introduced post-Brexit. Initially it was thought that passports had to be valid for at least six months and that these months must be within 10 years of the issue date.  

As a result of the misunderstanding, some passengers with valid passports were denied boarding, but this should no longer be the case.

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