Beware UK passport validity

Brexit “quirk” affects UK passports

UK passport

The Telegraph reported a couple of days ago that if you get your passport documentation wrong when you travel to the EU, a strange quirk in the Brexit agreement could ruin your entire holiday. One reader who contacted them estimates she lost nearly £2,000 in accommodation, travel and other costs when she was turned away at a Ryanair check-in desk and eventually ended up having to abandon her family holiday to Majorca last month. All this because she fell foul of a new rule on passport validity. 

She is one of many readers who have contacted the Telegraph because of the same issue, which stems from a change applied as part of the Brexit deal on December 31, 2020. After that date, the old requirement that your passport simply had to be valid in order to travel in the Schengen zone was altered so that it had to have at least three months validity beyond the date you plan to leave. 

On its own, that could be seen as a relatively minor adjustment, but there is a problem. The EU puts a 10-year limit on the overall validity of a British passport – as far as it is concerned, for travelling purposes, it runs out nine years and nine months after the date it was issued. However, the British government has, in recent years, issued many passports with an extra few months added to the overall validity. This is because, explains the Foreign Office: “If you renewed your current passport before the previous one expired, extra months may have been added to its expiry date.”

The newspaper gives a concrete example of how this affects travel. A colleague’s passport is stamped as valid from July 18, 2012, and the expiry date is given as November 18, 2022 (a total of 10 years, four months). If you looked only at the expiry date then you would think that it is valid for travel in the Schengen zone until three months before that, which would be August 18, 2022. 

But for the EU, it ceases to be valid nine years and nine months after it was issued, which is May 18, 2022. Present it at check-in at a British airport (or at the border itself) on May 19 and you won’t be allowed to travel, even though you may well have thought you had another four months’ validity to play with.

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9 thoughts on “Beware UK passport validity”

  1. its not very good timing of the Telegraph to run with this, because not only is it not correct, but the British Government have (according to Easyjet) informed the airlines that they will finally be updating and correcting their advice very soon.

    The Independent has been pushing this matter for months, having checked with the EU first. According to the EU, you do need a passport that is less than 10 years old, and (separately) you need to have 3 months validity on it. These requirements are separate though.

    So in the example given, a passport issued 18 July 2012 with an expiry date of 18 October 2022, would be valid for entry into the Schengen area up until 17 July. On that date it is both less than 10 years old and has more than 3 months validity.

    At least the UK Gov website is less misleading than before, as for most of this year it wrongly stated 6 months validity was needed.


  2. This article really is important if you take the example of the 4 months extra date add the 3 months EU
    That’s 7 months before the expiry date this is important abd I sincerely hope people do not stop and read the 3 month bit !!!
    Well done for flagging it up !

    I talk on cruise ships about Nadeira, as well as churchill by time ship docks people are buzzing to get off 🕵🏼‍♂️

  3. This is not new information from the Telegraph.

    It’s at least six months since I first read about it.

    (There’s nothing wrong with repeating it here, of course)

  4. From the Gov. website:

    “Passport validity
    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
    Your passport must also be less than 10 years old on the day after you leave. If you renewed your current passport before the previous one expired, extra months may have been added to its expiry date. Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the minimum period needed.

    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.”

    This suggests that what A reader has written (if I understand him/her correctly) is not correct. There is a facility on the Govt, website to check when you need to renew your passport. Because I renewed mine 6 months early last time, I effectively lose a whole year. I wish I could make this Government pay for it, seeing I did not vote for this mess, this being just one of numerous reasons!

    Another brexit dividend – not!

  5. Caroline I can understand entirely why you would believe the Uk government site above a random internet poster but I can assure you it is the Uk government site that is wrong. If you read the article in the independent I linked you will see this.


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