After months of raucous performances of the independentthe Foreign Office has now aligned its travel advice with the European Commission’s rules on passport validity for British visitors to the EU.
The change follows similar moves by the two major low-cost airlines, easyJet and Ryanair.
Many readers have contacted the independent looking for clarity on the rules. These are seven of the key questions.
Q: My passport was issued on May 29, 2012 and is valid until February 29, 2023. Will I be allowed to travel to France with Irish Ferries on May 28?
AN: Big moment. In accordance with European Union rules, you will travel on the last possible day that your passport allows you to travel to most of Europe.
The conditions for a British passport holder’s entry into the EU (and the wider Schengen Area, including Iceland, Norway and Switzerland) are as follows:
- Date of issue less than 10 years ago on the day of entry to the EU.
- Expiration date at least three months away from the expected day of return.
You fulfill the first condition in a single day, which is enough for the European authorities, and the second in six months.
One irritation is that Irish Ferries’ online advice on the subject seems to be ancient history. It says: “Should the UK leave the EU without a deal, UK passport holders traveling to France should note the following:
“The day you travel, you will need your passport so that you both have at least six months left. [and] be less than 10 years old (even if they have six months or more left).”
The first of those conditions is wrong, but you pass it anyway. Good trip.
Q: I am going to travel to Portugal on June 23 for a week. My passport was issued on September 21, 2012 and expires in February 2023. Will I be allowed entry? I keep reading conflicting advice and Ryanair is not being clear on this.
AN: For the last six months there has been complete clarity from the European Commission about the two rules for British visitors to the EU. But many travel companies have been slow to amend their policies and online information to align with the rules.
Ryanair changed their terms and conditions last week, but I understand that during the check-in process passengers are still expected to check a box saying they have at least six months to run their passports.
This is an inapplicable term and you can safely ignore it if your passport meets the above rules. In your case, you can enter Portugal any day until September 20 and stay up to 90 days (another EU rule that we ask to be subject to).
Do not renew your passport unnecessarily early; it just increases the pressure on the HM passport office and slows down the process for people who really need new documents.
Q: I just wanted to confirm that as long as I have more than six months on my passport but less than 10 years and I am not going to a European country (in my case I am going to Turkey), I will be fine to travel?
AN: Are you going somewhere other than the EU and the Schengen area? Ignore the issue date of your passport. Focus only on the expiration date. And while it’s nice to have six months for Turkey, forget any nonsense you’ve been told about a mandatory six-month validity requirement worldwide.
My colleague Lucy Thackray has written a really helpful article on passport expiry requirements around the world.
As she says, each country has its own rules about how long they require before your passport expires. Many of them, including Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Japan, Mexico, Tunisia and the US, allow you to stay there up to and including your passport expiration date. Cleverly, Costa Rica says that your passport must have at least one day of validity from the date of departure, which means you should be able to return home with no problem.
Throughout the world there is little agreement: Cuba wants two months left when he leaves the island. The European Union wants three months left on the day you leave the EU, and it’s also the only part of the world that cares when your passport was issued (it must be less than 10 years ago on the day you entered the European Union). ).
Many popular countries, including the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Israel, Kenya, Peru, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates (including Dubai) want six months to go until the day you intend to leave your country.
In the case of Turkey, the rules are more complex, but it is better to comply with the advice of the Foreign Office, which says: “Your passport must be valid for at least six months from the date of arrival and there must be a page completely blank for entry and exit stamps.”
And for the avoidance of doubt: there is no illusory “new” expiration date 10 years after issue. Many people’s passports will be valid for exactly a decade, but if you’re lucky enough to have longer than that, all that matters is the printed expiration date.
Q: My children have passports issued in November 2017 that are valid until April 2023. We are going to Cape Verde in August, will they be valid or do we have to renew them?
AN: Yes, they are fine. Cape Verde is one of those countries where you need a validity of six months from the date of entry. As mentioned above, the date of issue is irrelevant for locations outside the EU. (And, of course, all child passports pass the European test issued in the last 10 years.)
Q: Any idea of the latest on the border between Gibraltar and Spain? We flew via Gibraltar to stay in Spain at the end of the month. We have heard of issues where you need to prove accommodation/return flights/sufficient funds for your stay. My in-laws were held for several hours a few weeks ago.
AN: What his in-laws experienced was exactly what the UK asked to happen. The Withdrawal Agreement negotiated after the Brexit vote called for UK passport holders to be considered “third country nationals”.
As such, border officials are required to ensure that arrivals from the UK do not become a burden on the state and are not overstayed illegally.
Many border crossings do not strictly enforce the rules; but conversely, Spain may have its own political reasons for making a point.
It may be that Gibraltar becomes part of the Schengen area, which will be politically interesting, but very useful in practice, without fixed border controls between the British Overseas Territory and Spain.
Q: I have a British passport issued on October 1, 2012 and expiring on April 1, 2023, making it valid for 10 years and six months. Is my passport valid for a trip to Thailand in August?
So confused with all the articles in the press and can’t get through to the passport office.
AN: Trust me, your passport is valid to enter Thailand until October 1, 2022; Coincidentally, this is her 10th birthday, but that’s beside the point. What counts is that on the day of entry you have at least six months left on your passport.
To reaffirm: the only places on earth that care when your passport is issued are the countries of the European Union. All other countries just want their expiration date to be compatible.
There is no point in contacting Passport Adviceline – it is not qualified to answer rules questions for nations around the world.
(Gill then replies: Thanks, someone finally made sense to me. Passport office didn’t respond, Thai embassy told me to ask the airline, just went around in circles!)
Q: I’m still panicking about my passport. It sells out in September 2022. It will take three months to return to the UK from Ibiza. That’s ok?
AN: From the information you provide, I can’t tell, but I’m afraid it may well be that I am no longer eligible to travel to the European Union.
I gather that your passport was issued sometime between December 2011 and September 2012, and that you will be traveling for a break of a week or two in May or June 2022. It is clear that your passport meets the expiration date condition, but I’m afraid it won’t pass the issue date test.
If your departure date is after the tenth birthday of the passport, you will not be able to travel. However, if you are wrong by just a couple of days (for example, your passport was issued on June 1, 2012 and you are due to travel on June 2, 2022), then it might be worth changing your flight to May 31 ( or buy a completely new one). You will be able to legally enter Spain; spend a couple of days in a local hotel; and then start your vacation off right.
However, if the dates don’t work, you’re in a tricky position: HM Passport Office has priority options, but this is hopelessly oversubscribed. With three weeks to go, it’s worth applying for a renewal online; If you get the application right (and, more importantly, make sure the photo meets the requirements), you’ll likely get a new document by the end of the first week of June. I hope this is on time.
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