Since Brexit, the rules on passport validity for British visitors to the European Union have been tightened. But the UK government tells visitors the regulations are worse than they really are.
After requesting from The IndependentThe Home Office has removed the faulty post-Brexit passport check tool.
But the government continues to publish inaccurate information about the validity of British travel documents in the European Union.
Some airlines continue to deny boarding to UK passport holders with valid travel documents, leaving themselves to accept the claim.
These are key questions and answers based on EU rules, not because of their misinterpretation by the UK government.
While the UK is in the European Union, a British passport is valid to and includes an expiration date for travel within the European Union. But since the Brexit transition period ended, British passport holders are considered “third country citizens” with regulations on passport issues and expiration dates – along with limits on how long they can stay. reside almost anywhere in Europe.
For the avoidance of doubt, these are not “new EU rules” – they were decided while the UK was in the European Union.
What is required for my passport to be valid?
The requirements for the Schengen Area – which includes most of the EU countries plus Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and a few micro-countries – are evident on the Travel page of the European Union website of the European Union: “If you are a non-EU citizen who wants 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,
- released within the previous 10 years. ”
Why is the line about ‘released within the last 10 years’?
For many years, until September 2018, the UK had a generous policy of allowing credits for an “unlimited” period when renewing passports, issuing documents valid for up to 10 years and nine years. month.
So passports issued on October 31, 2012 may have an expiry date of July 31, 2023.
This has been fine in Europe and the world for a decade – until Brexit, whereby an age-old rule applies. For non-EU members wishing to enter the Schengen Area, a passport must have been issued within the last 10 years.
With a passport issued on 31 October 2012, regardless of the expiration date, you will not be allowed to enter the EU from 1 November 2022.
Until September 2018, the government appeared to be unaware of the matter. Once the problem was identified, the practice of extending up to nine months abruptly ceased.
But aren’t the rules “issued less than 10 years ago” and “valid for three months”?
Fix. No need to have a passport issued less than nine years, nine months ago. The two conditions are independent of each other.
The European Commission’s Department of Home Affairs and Migration in Brussels told me: “Travelers with passports issued within the 10 years prior to entry into the Schengen area should be allowed to enter.
“The condition is that the passport must be issued within the previous 10 years without renewal for the intended length of stay. It is sufficient if this condition is met at the time of entry.
“To give a real-life example, a non-EU tourist arriving on December 1, 2021 for a 20-day stay in the European Union with a passport issued on December 2, 2011 and valid until April 2, 2022 will be allowed to enter.”
But the UK government claims to the contrary, saying: “For some Schengen countries, your passport may need to be less than 10 years old during your entire visit and three months at the end of your visit. may have to be within 10 years from the date of your passport. release date. ”
In other words, the government says, your passport must be issued no more than nine years and nine months.
This is pointless, as I have pointed out to officials – including providing explicit confirmation from the European Commission in Brussels.
Unfortunately, some travel agencies and airlines seem to continue to apply inaccurate information.
What does the UK government say?
A government spokesman said: “The European Commission has clearly communicated to us, including correspondence received [on 10 November 2021]The conditions of passports under 10 years of age and valid for three months after the date of return are cumulative.
“We are working with the Commission to seek further clarification and if this case is no longer the case, we will update our advice in due course.”
In establishing the rights of British tourists to visit the EU, the UK’s interpretation of European rules is inconsistent. The Independent contacted the leading airlines with the correct information provided by the European Commission.
Which is legally superior: European rules or the unusual UK interpretation?
Europe: the attitude of the destination matters. Over the summer, Jet2 followed UK advice and banned some passengers from flights to Europe. After The Independent pointing out that this was a violation of European airline passenger rights rules, Jet2 apologized and compensated the affected passengers.
Britain’s largest holiday company, Tui, has changed its policy to match European rules. A spokesperson for the travel giant said: “Following the new information provided, we can confirm that we have now changed our policy accordingly.
“Customers will not be denied boarding on the basis that their passport needs to meet both conditions.”
If I am falsely denied, what rights do I have?
For flights: you can claim denied boarding (£220 or £350, depending on the length of the flight) and associated costs – for example booking another flight on a rival airline or for wasted car and hotel rental costs that cannot be recovered.
I just read a report saying I need six months left for Europe?
Unfortunately, some newspapers continue to publish inaccurate information. Ignore it.
Does that 10-year plus rule apply anywhere else in the world?
Not as far as I know. The concern surrounding the release date is only related to travel to the European Union – not to the rest of the world.
For destinations outside the EU, the only important consideration is the expiry date. And for destinations like Australia, USA and Canada, your passport is valid to and including this date.
So, with that passport expiring on July 31, 2023, you can stay in New York until that day (although you’ll have to return to a daytime flight to avoid running out of passports en route.
What about children?
Passports for under-16s are usually valid for five years (plus any additional credits). A child’s passport issued for five years and nine months is clearly within the 10-year limit and is unlikely to violate that condition.
(For 2021, the Home Office’s faulty passport checkers forfeit all additional credit, which is both false and unhelpful. Online checkers are now disabled.)
But beware of the rule of three months left on exit, which children are more likely to make mistakes with because of the shorter validity of their passports.
When will you renew your passport?
The passport is issued on 23 May 2012 and expires on 23 February 2023. The passport is therefore valid for leaving the EU until 22 May 2022 with a stay of up to 90 days ( minus the time I was in the EU for the previous 90 years).
I will renew it before my next scheduled trip to Europe after that date.
What about this 90/180 day rule?
For trips to the Schengen area (most EU countries plus Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and some small countries), UK passport holders can stay up to 90 days in any 180 days. period. That’s about three months out of six.
It’s hard to explain, but I’ll do my best. Imagine a calendar that spans almost six months from today. What happened more than 180 days ago is irrelevant. What counts is the number of days you were in (I) or outside (O) the Schengen Area in the last 180 days.
You can easily count yourself on a calendar, print or digital.
If the “I” hits 90, you have to leave that day and stay out for almost three months, to accumulate 90 consecutive “Os.” You can then come back, for up to 90 days.
Over the course of a calendar year, it could work like this (assuming no travel to the EU in the previous six months).
- January 1: enter the EU and stay for 90 days until the last day of March, when you have to leave.
- April 1: outside for 90 days, through June 29.
- June 30: Enter the EU and stay for 90 days, until September 27. Then leave.
- September 28: remain outside the EU until December 26.
For longer stays, some countries offer visas that allow British citizens to stay for several months. If you get one of these, the time in that country doesn’t count towards the “90/180” rule – in other words, you can explore other EU countries with the new calendar.
What about non-Schengen EU members?
For British visitors to Irish, there is no limit on passport validity. Indeed, a passport is not legally required for British visitors to the republic, although some airlines insist on it.
Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania has the same regulations as the Schengen Area: passports issued within the last 10 years and valid for three months on the date of departure. But time in any of these countries doesn’t contribute to the total “90/180” days.
Help! My passport is full of stamps and I have no space left. Will I be turned away?
No, although Eurostar warns UK passport holders: “Check to make sure your passport has a clear page as it will need to be stamped with your departure date when you are traveling to and from the EU.”
of the EU Practical Handbook of Border Guards clear about a “document that allows third country nationals to cross the border” [that] is no longer suitable for stamping because there are no more pages.”
In such a case, third country nationals should apply for a new passport, so that the seal can continue to be affixed there in the future.
“However, as an exception – and especially in the case of frequent cross-border travelers – it is possible to use a separate sheet for additional stamping. Sheets must be issued to a third country.
“In any case, the lack of blank pages in a passport in itself is not a valid and sufficient basis for denying a person’s entry.”