Do you know when your passport expires?
Brits should check their passport validity before heading to Europe this summer as travel documentation rules have shifted since Brexit.
As wait times for new passports mount, here’s everything you need to know about the new rules - and whether or not you can still use your current passport.
What are the passport rules for Brits travelling to Europe?
You might assume that your passport is valid up to the expiry date. But this isn’t always the case.
Before Brexit, Brits could travel up to and including the expiry date on their passports. But EU regulations now classify UK citizens as ‘third country nationals,’ meaning the rules have changed.
If a UK passport holder wants to visit the EU, they will need a passport:
- which was issued within the previous 10 years.
- is valid for at least three months after the date you plan to leave the EU country you are visiting - read on for UK government advice on this.
These requirements apply to the whole Schengen area, which includes most EU countries plus Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland.
Though British citizens can enter the Schengen area with three months of validity on their passports, the UK government recommends that they have six months validity.
This allows a passport holder to travel for 90 days (the maximum number of visa free days a UK citizen can visit Europe in a six month period) and still exit with a valid passport.
What are the passport requirements for Brits travelling outside the EU?
Outside of the EU, passport requirements can be even stricter.
Some countries - including many in Asia and Africa - require UK citizens to have six months of validity on their passports from the date of departure. China, Singapore, and Egypt fall into this category.
In other countries, the rules are far more relaxed. In Japan, Mexico, and Australia, for example, your passport only needs to be valid for the duration of your stay.
Check the specific requirements on the UK Foreign Office website.
How long does it take to get a new passport?
If your passport is edging close to the expiry date, you may want to get an application for a new one in quick.
The UK Home office estimates that it currently takes roughly 10 weeks to get a new passport.
However, unprecedented demand and huge backlogs mean you could be waiting even longer. In April, the Home Office estimated that 9.5 million Brits would apply for new documents in 2022.
Frustrated applicants have taken to social media to share horror stories of lengthy queues and months-long delays.
“After a long wait (and a) failed attempt to renew UK passport from Aus, son applied from uk, been waiting 14 weeks, missed his trip,” user Julie Wilson posted last week.
“Please prioritise this! Was told by your staff to stop telephoning as this will only delay the issue!”
At the end of June, the Home Office had a backlog of 550,000 passports.