Britons told to check passports as more people denied travel to EU

Hundreds of travellers, including those on their way to visit family in France and second homes, reported to be blocked by 10-year rule

People should check their passports to check their validity dates
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More Britons report being turned away from travelling to the EU due to their passports being issued over 10 years even though they are still valid. They are trying to travel during the period over the 10 years from initial issue.

This period is valid on the UK passport but EU rules say you cannot enter the bloc on a passport that is more than 10 years old.

In some cases, people have been able to book tickets, check-in to flights and go through airport security but are then denied entry to the plane at the UK departure gate.

There are predictions that up to 100,000 Britons could be refused entry to the EU this year over this issue.

Travel Expert at Which? magazine Rory Boland told the BBC that holidaymakers and second-home owners planning to go to the EU should check both their passport expiry and validity dates before making travel arrangements.

In most cases passports can be renewed within a month or so through the standard online process.

However, those travelling in the coming days or weeks may opt to use a more expensive fast-track process to make sure the document is valid before their date of departure, if they see their passport is no longer valid for the EU.

What is the 10-year rule and why is it causing problems?

The issues revolve around EU rules on ‘valid travel documents’, and former UK practices on issuing passports that were slightly longer than the global standard 10-year length.

Prior to 2018, UK passports could be allocated up to an extra nine months of validity, carried over from a previous passport if this was renewed prior to its expiry.

The UK government used the measure to encourage people to renew passports throughout the year – avoiding rush periods – without them losing out on validity time.

When the UK was part of the EU these passports were accepted unilaterally by other members of the bloc as ‘valid travel documents’ issued by an EU member state.

Since Brexit, however, UK passports with more than 10 years of validity are no longer accepted by the EU once they have reached 10 years since issue, as is the case with other non-EU passports.

Article 6 of the Schengen Borders Code states that a ‘valid travel document’ of a non-EU country must have been issued within the last 10 years.

For example, if your passport was issued in February 2014, but runs until August 2024 (because of the leftover validity period from your old document), you will not be able to use it to enter the EU – because it was issued more than 10 years ago.

If your passport was first issued in May 2014 and runs until September 2024, you should still be granted entry into the EU if travelling over the Easter period, provided you plan to leave before the beginning of May 2024.

All countries that are part of the EU and EEA have the same entry rules with the exception of the Republic of Ireland, which has its own special travel arrangements with the UK.

You are still able to use a valid UK passport issued more than 10 years ago to travel to other international destinations.

Note the Schengen Borders Code also states to be granted entry a passport must be valid for at least three months from the date of departure from the EU.

Those with valid residency permits for an EU country (for example, a French Carte de Séjour) should in theory not be turned away, provided their passport is still valid (i.e has not expired).

Read more: Does a French residency card allow you free movement in the EU?

What can I do if I am affected?

The first thing you should do is to check your passport.

UK passports issued since 2018 will all be valid for exactly 10 years, so should never be classed as invalid for EU travel (unless you are travelling less than three months before the document expires).

If your passport does last for more than 10 years, and it is coming up to nearly 10 years since it was issued, you should renew it, to make sure it will be valid for future travel.

Note to renew your passport once it reaches 10 years from issue, as opposed to when it is set to expire.

If your passport is not valid for EU entry and you are planning to travel there soon, you should renew your passport immediately.

The government’s passport website says it takes around three weeks to renew online, however some people report delays of up to 10 weeks during busy periods.

Most passport applications are now undertaken online, including passport renewals for those abroad, which the government states currently takes around four weeks. UK residents can also apply through the Post Office using a paper form.

Read more: What is the best way to renew my British passport from France?

If you are based in the UK and need your passport renewed with more immediacy you can use the Online Premium or Fast Track services which issue passports in less time for an increased cost.

The latter of these requires you to make an appointment at your nearest passport office, and can either see you have your passport issued within one week, or within a single day.

The UK government states people should not apply for these services if they have already applied to renew their passport through the standard method, as it will not help process the original application any quicker.

Have you been affected by this 10-year rule and turned away before travel? Are you renewing your passport earlier than you expected to because of these rules? Let us know via

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