An obscure Brexit passport rule going into effect next week could wreck your travel plans

Sep 30, 2021

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Many travellers probably know when their passport is due to expire. But do you know the date it was issued?

From 4 October, knowing this bit of information could help prevent a disastrous travel scenario. So, if you have an overseas holiday planned, it’s important you check the issue date on passports before you travel.

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To be allowed entry into Europe under new Brexit terms, your passport must have been issued within the last 10 years. Essentially, even if you have six months or more left before your passport expires, you could still be unable to travel abroad if the issue date is beyond the 10-year limit.

Before Brexit, Brits could go to any country in the European Union up to and even including the expiration date. But from 1 January, the U.K. is no longer a member nation and does not enjoy the benefits that came with it and so it must follow the same travel protocols the EU has in place for third countries.

This does not affect travel to the Common Travel Area, so going to Ireland or the Isle of Man, for instance, will not be a problem since a passport is not needed.

Photographer: Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Bloomberg for Getty Images

Related: What is the Common Travel Area and how does it work?

The burgundy-coloured passports are being phased out for the blue passports that are modeled after the original British passports first issued back in 1921. Can you still use the old passports for travel to Europe? Yes, if your documents meet the following criteria:

  • Your passport still has at least six months of validity from the date of entry
  • It’s less than 10 years old (even if it is valid for six months or more)

Many Brits likely didn’t pay much attention to this caveat because in January, when the rule officially went into effect, international travel was banned due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But if your passport has expired or was issued more than a decade ago, you will need to apply for a new one. You can do it online or fill out the forms at the local post office. But be aware that due to continuing COVID-19 restrictions, the processing time for paper applications could take much longer, so if you are travelling anytime soon you should check this as soon as possible.

Featured image by SOPA Images for Getty Images 


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