Don’t get caught out by this little-known UK passport expiry issue

When planning an international trip, ensuring that your passport is valid for the duration of your travels is crucial. Most countries around the world require your passport to be valid for at least six months beyond your planned date of departure. The rule acts as a safety net to accommodate unforeseen circumstances or potential delays that could extend your stay beyond the initial travel plans.

But did you know that, even if you have more than 6 months left on your expiry date, you can still be caught out? Take a look at my passport photo below – it clearly shows that my passport expires on 23rd April 2024 (and that it’s valid from 23rd August 2023). This is seemingly all fine for my next planned overseas trip which is not until 26th August 2023. I mean, that’s almost 8 months before the expiry date, so all is well… no?

No! There’s a catch that UK passport holders need to be aware of… if I don’t get my passport renewed now, I would very likely be refused travel at the airport come August. Here’s why…

If you’re a holder of the old burgundy-coloured British passports and you’re travelling to an EU country (except Ireland) or Schengen zone countries such as Switzerland, Norway and Iceland, then your passport cannot be used if it is more than 10 years from the date of issue. It’s a new rule that has come about since Brexit.


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In the case of my passport, my intended travel date of 26th August 2023 would be more than 10 years from the passport’s date of issue (23rd August 2013).

Unsurprisingly, travellers are being caught out by this. It’s not unreasonable to assume that if your passport’s expiry date has more than 6 months remaining, then you are ‘good to go’, but it’s possible you’re not.

So, before that next trip turns to an unexpected disaster, all just because of a technicality, you might like to check your passport…

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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  1. What sort of bureaucratic topsy turvey world do we live in when 6 months doesn’t really mean 6 months??

    1. Indeed, Sally… and for anyone thinking this doesn’t sound right and probably doesn’t apply to them, it’s very real! I urge you to check out some of the news articles relating to this very issue:

      The Guardian: ‘I was in tears’: Briton with valid passport barred from flight over Brexit rules

      SchenganVisaInfo: Britons Continue Losing Thousands of Pounds Due to Confusing Post-Brexit Passport Rules for Travel to EU

      The Mirror: Tearful mum’s holiday ruined after passport rule sees her denied boarding on flight

      The Connexion: ‘Passport date issue stopped our travel UK to France and elsewhere’

  2. After reading this there will be a lot of people digging out their passports this evening and checking their dates of travel. And I will be one of them crossing my fingers and hoping!

    1. I suppose the long and the short of it, Karen… is don’t necessarily believe your passport expires when it says seemingly says it does, ridiculous though that might sound!

  3. You had me worried there.

    I’m booked onto a very luxurious Danube Rivercruise in 10 days time. Cruise paid, flights booked, and some amazing excursions paid for too.

    I knew my passport was old but luckily I got it in 2014 so I’m OK at the moment.

    Thanks for the warning.

    1. I’m glad to hear you are OK, but don’t get caught out next year! The government supposedly sent out around one million text messages (or so I’ve heard), warning people of the change. As one of the effected passport holders, I never received such a text, so I’m sure there are many others.

  4. My wife and I are planning a Med cruise for 2014 which would have involved a lot of passport checking. Both of our passports expire in 2014 so we could have had a magical anniversary celebration totally ruined.

    1. Hi John – I’m guessing your cruise is in 2024 also. If this post has saved at least one other person from a potential disaster, then I’m happy!!

  5. By the way, I published the above post on the same day that I returned my old passport and initiated the passport renewal process. I was told it could take up to 10 weeks.

    Today, just 10 days later, my new passport arrived, so the turnaround time on UK passports appears to be very good currently, and much faster than 10 weeks.

  6. Hi Paul, Are you aware if this issue relates to countries outside of the EU? Upcoming trip to Singapore and Vietnam, they appear to be using the expiry date which i’d previously considered was the stated expiry date…

  7. My passport expires on 15 April 2024, and I am intending to travel to Cape Verde on 19 December 2023 and returning 2 January 2024, am struggling to find out either do I need to renew my passport now or, am I covered with the three month rule on return?

    1. Hello Phil… your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Cape Verde. So yes, you will need to renew your passport now…

      Safe travels!


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