April 5, 2024

Ten-year UK passport rule explained

The rules for UK passport holders travelling to Europe changed when the UK left the European Union. With reports of travellers being caught out at departure, here we share the current rules and explain how to check that your passport meets the requirements.

What has changed?

If your passport was issued before September 2018, it may appear to be valid for longer than 10 years. This is because it was previously possible for UK travellers to carry up to nine months from an old passport over to a new one, meaning that a passport could be valid for more than 10 years.

Whilst this is still okay if you travel outside much of Europe, UK travellers must now make sure that their passport was issued less than 10 years before the date they enter the country when they travel within the EU. The only exceptions being Ireland, Iceland, Norway, Lichtenstein and Switzerland. This is known as the ’10 year passport rule’.

What is the 10-year rule?

The “10-year rule” means that to enter EU countries (aside from the exceptions listed above), your UK passport must now:

  • have been issued less than 10 years before the date you enter the EU country (ie the “date of issue”); and
  • must be valid for at least three months after the day you plan to leave (ie the “date of expiry”).

What if my passport does not meet the ’10-year rule?’

You must ensure your passport meets the requirements  if you’re travelling within the EU. If your passport does not meet these rules, you will be refused entry and will not be able to board your flight. Anyone with a passport issued since 2018 will have a cap of 10 years so will not face any issues.

How to check if your passport is affected by the 10-year rule

  • Check if your passport was issued before September 2018.
  • Make sure your passport has not passed its 10-year anniversary.
  • You must have a passport issued less than 10 years before your departure date.
  • Even if your passport has several months left to run, it could still be invalid for travel to all EU countries with the exception of Ireland, Iceland, Norway, Lichtenstein and Switzerland if it was issued more than 10 years before the date you enter the country.
  • Renewing a passport can take up to three weeks from the UK, but during busy times it can take longer.
  • You can renew your passport online at HM Passport Office or through a paper application, which can be collected from certain Post Offices.
  • If you find last minute that your passport is invalid, you can try and book an emergency appointment online at your nearest passport office, which offers a one-day and a one-week fast track service.

In addition to the above, your passport should be valid for at least 3 months after the date you intend to leave the EU.

Find out more

Find out more about the passport rules of travelling within the EU on the European Union website.

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