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The rules have changed!

Due to Brexit, there’s been a change to passport rules if you’re intending to travel to the EU with a UK passport.

These changes have been in place since 1st January 2021 but as nobody was travelling at that point, it wasn’t widely spoken about meaning that as travel has opened up, lots of people have been falling foul of the new rules which has sent many a traveller home from the airport.

What rules have changed for UK passports?

As we are no longer part of the EU, we are classed as a ‘third nation country’ by the EU and therefore must follow the same rules as everyone else in that group.

Before, we would have been able to travel to the EU up to and on the day that our passport expired.

In addition, if we had more than 10 years on our passport (a regular occurrence in the past when the passport office would add on any leftover months on your previous passport when you renewed).

However, both of these things have now changed.

What are the new passport rules for UK travellers?

For this, let’s take a look at what the official EU wording is:

“If you are a non-EU national wishing to visit or travel within the EU, you will need a passport:

  • valid for at least 3 months after the date you intend to leave the EU country you are visiting,
  • which was issued within the previous 10 years

The latter is the bit that is catching most people out as some older passports are valid for more than 10 years, which the EU does now not accept. Therefore, it’s your date of issue that is more important to check in this intance.

Do I need to meet both of those conditions simultaneously?

Great question!

It took some time to get confirmation on this but it turns out that the two conditions above are in fact independent of each other.

To explain the relevance, let me use an example.

A woman is travelling to an EU country on 1st November 2021 for 3 nights. Her passport was issued on 25th November 2011. It expires 12th March 2022.

Can she travel under the new rules?

Well let’s go through this.

Is her passport valid for at least 3 months after the date she intends to leave the EU?

She’s returning on 4th November 2021 so yes.

Was it issued within the previous 10 years?

On her dates of travel, that’s also a yes.

The reason this is significant is because if both of the conditions were used simultaneously, the last date of possible travel would be 25th Aug 20201 – 3 months prior to the date where her passport would reach 10 years.

Therefore, whilst I will say that the above scenario would be fine for travel, you may find that airport staff may not be across the rules in detail, especially since the UK government information is quite confusing on the subject. Therefore, if you do have time to renew your passport, it may be worthwhile. Otherwise, please feel free to use this reasoning to explain why your travel is fine, and you can also quote Simon Calder at The Independent who has done extensive work on this too.

But the UK home office says I need to have 6 months left on my passport?

They did say this in the past but fortunately, they have updated their advice to reflect the accurate EU rules.

“We recommend that on the day you travel you have at least 6 months left on your passport. This allows for:

  • travelling in Europe for up to 3 months (you don’t normally need a visa for the first 90 days in every 180 days of travel)
  • the requirement from most European countries to have at least 3 months left on your passport on the day after you leave”

The reason they recommend 6 months is because the longest journey we can now take in the EU is 90 days, and therefore 6 months covers all possible trips – but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with you travelling for a shorter trip as long as you still have that magical 3 months left on the day you come home.

Is this for all EU countries?

There’s one exception – Ireland

This is because Ireland is part of the Common Travel Area and the UK government state:

“These rules do not apply to travel to Ireland. You can continue to use your passport as long as it’s valid for the length of your stay.”

Check travel rules in some of the most popular destinations

Did that help?

I really hope so – I know there’s lots of changes going around at the moment!

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