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When is my passport valid for travel to the EU?

To travel to most EU countries, to Schengen Area countries not in the EU (ie Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland), or to Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, or Vatican City, as someone who isn’t an EU-passport holder, your passport must be:

  • issued within the previous 10 years, and

  • valid for a minimum of 3 months after the date you plan to leave the country you’re visiting

It is important to note that these two rules are independent of each other and that there is no need for your passport to be issued less than 9 years and 9 months ago for it to be valid. This means that, at the moment of entry, passports do not have to be valid for 10 years in addition to the 3 months at the end of the visit being within the 10 years.

Please note that these rules on passport validity do not apply to British passport holders travelling to Ireland. Remember to check any other country-specific requirements for entry into the EU country you are visiting.

10 years of validity

Until September 2018, when renewing passports, the UK allowed any ‘unspent’ time to be credited to the new passport. This meant that, for example, UK passports could have a validity of 10 years and 9 months; so a passport issued on 1 December 2012 could have an expiry date of 1 September 2023.

Before Brexit, this rule did not affect British nationals. However, since Brexit, non-EU nationals wishing to enter the EU and Schengen Area must have had their passports issued in the previous 10 years.

Note that it can take several weeks to process a new passport in busy times such as the summer, so it is best to apply as early as possible. If you need to renew urgently, the government does offer a one-week fast track service.

What about children’s passports?

Children’s passports need to comply with the above 10-year and 3-month rules. 

As passports for those under the age of 16 are valid for 5 years (or 5 years and 9 months at the most, if any unspent time was credited), they will always comply with the 10-year rule. However, due to the shorter validity of children’s passports, care must be taken to comply with the 3-month rule.

What rights do I have if I’m incorrectly turned away?

If you are incorrectly turned away from a flight departing from the UK, you can claim denied boarding compensation. Denied boarding compensation is available to anyone who is involuntarily bumped from their flight, provided they had checked in for their flight on time. Compensation generally ranges from £110 to £520 and depends on the length of the flight and the timings of any alternative flights you may be offered.

You are also automatically entitled to:

  • a replacement flight (either as soon as possible or at a later date that suits you), or

  • a refund of all parts of the ticket you haven’t used, if you no longer wish to travel (eg if you booked a round trip but couldn’t board your outbound flight)

If you’re part-way through your journey (eg because your journey was divided into separate flights), you are also entitled to a free return flight to your starting point.

If you want a replacement flight, the airline that denied boarding must also cover your costs. These may include:

  • booking another flight on a rival airline

  • transportation costs to and from your accommodation or home

  • accommodation costs (eg for staying overnight in a hotel if you are booked onto a flight on a different day)

  • reasonable costs for food and drink (often in the form of vouchers)

For more information on travelling to the EU, read How Brexit affects individuals and the government’s foreign travel advice. If you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to Ask a lawyer.

Rebecca Neumann
Rebecca Neumann
Senior Acquisition Manager at Rocket Lawyer UK

Rebecca is the Senior Acquisition Manager at Rocket Lawyer UK. She graduated from Queen Mary University of Laws with a law degree and has completed her LPC at the University of Laws.

She is passionate about intellectual property and private client law, and strongly believes that legal services should be affordable and accessible to all.

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