Passports and visas

When going on an overseas holiday, one of the most important things you need to check is if your passport will be valid for your travel dates and if not, make sure it is renewed in good time for your trip. 

 

Checking passport validity

If you’re a British passport holder, you can check your passport will be valid for your travel dates by going to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office’s website, selecting the country you are visiting, heading to the entry requirements section and looking for the ‘passport validity’ information.’ 

Here, you’ll find the rules that your passport needs to meet so you can travel to that country. This includes the minimum amount of time you need to have left, which is often between three to six months. Rules do vary from country to country, so make sure you read the advice carefully. 

If you're not a British passport holder you should check with the embassy of the country you're travelling to. 

 

Travel to Europe now that we have left the EU

With the UK no longer a Member of the European Union (EU), the following requirements now apply to British passport holders when travelling to countries in the EU (except Ireland), as well as Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino or Vatican City.

Your passport must be:

  1. Issued less than 10 years before the date you enter the country (so check the ‘date of issue’)
  2. Valid for at least three months after the day you plan to leave (so check the ‘date of expiry’).

For example, if you are entering the EU on 21 July 2023 and returning to the UK on 4 August 2023, your passport must:

  1. Have been issued less than 10 years before 21 July 2023.
  2. Be valid for at least three months after 4 August 2023.

If your current passport was issued before 1 October 2018, you might have had extra months from your previous passport added to its expiry date. These extra months do count towards the required three months that you will need on your passport on the day you plan to leave, but it does mean that it’s even more important to check that your passport will also be less than 10 years old on the date you enter the EU. 

If you’re travelling with children, don’t forget that British passports for under 16s are only valid for five years. This means they will automatically meet the first rule of being issued less than 10 years before entering the EU, so you just need to check it will meet the second rule – that it will be valid for at least three months after the day you plan to leave.

If you’re travelling to Ireland, you can continue to use your passport as long as it’s valid for the length of your stay.

 

Applying for or renewing your passport

His Majesty's Passport Office (HMPO) is advising that when applying from the UK, you should get your new passport within three weeks of them receiving your documents, unless further information is needed. Always make sure you apply in good time, you can apply online today by clicking here.

When renewing your passport you’ll need a photograph and your old passport, you’ll also need to check the counter signatory criteria to see if you need to confirm your identity. 

Make sure you send off your old passport straight away in order to progress your application.

For support in your passport application, you can pop into your local Post Office and use the Digital Check & Send service or the Paper Check & Send service so you get it right first time. 

Many photography retailers on the high street can also help you take your passport photo for a small fee so you feel reassured your photo will be accepted for your application. 

If you need to get a new adult or child passport urgently, you can use the 1-week Fast Track service.

Make sure you sign your new passport on the ‘holder’s signature’ line as soon as you get it, using a black ballpoint pen. You won’t be able to use it until you do. View HMPO’s guidance on this here.

 

Visas

Some countries require you to have a visa for your visit. You can find out whether you need a visa by checking the travel advice for your destination which can be found at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office’s website.

If you’re going to the EU on holiday or for business, you don’t currently need a visa for short trips, but you will need a visa if you plan to stay more than 90 days in any 180-day period. There are also plans to bring in a new visa waiver system, called ETIAS, in 2024. For more information, visit abta.com/brexit.