British passports used to visit the European Union or the Schengen Area following the end of the Brexit transition period must be less than 10 years old on the day the traveller leaves. However, this rule only applies for travel to the European Union or the Schengen Area; the rules for travel to the rest of the world are unchanged, and the new rules do not apply for travel to Ireland.

An Instagram post claimed that if a UK passport issued before the UK left the EU had additional months for its validity, then those extra months are no longer valid. The post included an example of a passport issued on 21 June 2012, with an expiry date of 21 December 2012; the revised expiry date is 21 June 2012.

Extra months

If a British passport holder renews their passport before the current passport expires, extra months may be added to the expiry date of the new passport (so it expires 10 years after the expiry of the old passport, but is issued and valid before the old passport expires). This means that a standard 10-year passport may have more than 10 years between the issue date and the expiry date.

Post-Brexit retrospective changes

Before the United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020, and during the transition period that ended on 31 December 2020, British passports were accepted for travel to all other countries in the European Union regardless of the duration of the passport or the amount of time remaining before the expiry of the passport.

However, following the end of the Brexit transition period, UK passport holders are now treated as third country nationals, and therefore the rules for British passport holders have changed.

According to Title II, Chapter I, Article 6 of the Schengen Borders Code, third party nationals may only be admitted to the Schengen Area if the validity of the passport has been “issued within the previous 10 years”, and the passport validity extends at least three months after the intended date of departure.

In effect, this means that a passport cannot be used for travel to the European Union or Schengen Area if more than ten years has elapsed since the passport was issued. However, this rule does not apply for travel to Ireland. The rules for travel to the rest of the world using British passports have not changed.

Post-Brexit UK passports

British government advice for travel to Europe states:

We recommend that on the day you travel you have at least 6 months left on your passport. This allows for:

  • travelling in Europe for up to 3 months (you don’t normally need a visa for the first 90 days in every 180 days of travel)
  • the requirement from most European countries to have at least 3 months left on your passport on the day after you leave

Your passport must also be less than 10 years old on the day after you leave. If you renewed your current passport before the previous one expired, extra months may have been added to its expiry date. Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the minimum period needed.

These rules do not apply to travel to Ireland. You can continue to use your passport as long as it’s valid for the length of your stay.

Passport validity rules can vary for countries outside Europe. Canada and Mexico are examples of countries that require three months’ validity for travel, while Turkey and Vietnam require six months’ validity.

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