Passport rules for going on holiday explained

Britain’s withdrawal from the EU two years ago triggered new travel rules for some passport holders in addition to the return of the distinctive blue passport.

And as life returns to normal post-pandemic, travellers are finding themselves caught up in these new restrictions, many of which vary by country.

How much time you need on your passport depends on the country you’re visiting. Check the travel advice for the country you want to travel to before you depart.

In particular, the requirements for the Schengen Area – comprising most EU countries plus Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and a handful of micro-states – now have specific and updated rules.

The Travel page of the European Union’s Your Europe site states that if you are a non-EU national wishing to visit or travel within the EU, your passport must be valid for at least three months after the date you intend to leave the EU country you are visiting an must have been issued in the past 10 years.

But importantly, the validity date is the expiry date, not the 10th anniversary of the passport being issued.

The validity date is the expiry date, not the 10th anniversary of the passport being issued (

Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Also, until Brexit, if you renewed your current passport before the previous one expired, extra months will have been added to its expiry date, meaning it would be valid for longer than 10 years.

But any extra months on your passport over 10 years may no longer count towards the minimum period needed to travel.

The Migration and Home Affairs Department of the European Commission in Brussels explains: “Entry should be allowed to those travelling with passports issued within the previous 10 years at the moment of entry into the Schengen area.

“The condition that the passport must have been issued within the previous 10 years does not extend for the duration of the intended stay. It is enough if this condition is fulfilled at the moment of entry.”

For trips to the Schengen area (most EU nations plus Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and some small countries), it’s also worth noting that British passport holders can stay a maximum of 90 days in any 180. That’s roughly three months in six.

For longer stays, some countries offer visas that allow British citizens to remain for months on end.

If you get one of these, then the time spent in that country does not count towards the “90/180” rule – in other words, you can explore other EU countries with a fresh calendar.

For British visitors to Ireland, there are no limits on passport validity. Indeed, a passport is not legally mandatory for British travellers to the republic, though some airlines insist on it.

Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania have identical rules to the Schengen Area: passport issued in the past 10 years, and with three months validity remaining on the day of leaving the country.

But time spent in any of these nations does not contribute to the “90/180” day total.

If you have a trip booked or are thinking about one, dig out everyone’s passport now to check the dates.

Most crucially, check the date of issue and the date of expiry.

You can see a full list of the passport rules for different countries, here.

What countries are in the Schengen Area?

Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.