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

You can check your passport validity by looking at both the issue and expiry date.

Countries require you to have a minimum amount of time left on your passport. How much time you need left on your passport depends on the country you’re visiting, though it is often between three to six months.

If you're a British passport holder, you can check the passport rules for the country you are travelling to at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office’s website. Passport validity information will be in the entry requirements for the country you're visiting. 

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), there are now different requirements for British passport holders when travelling to countries in the European Union, as well as Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein:

  • Your passport cannot be more than 10 years old when entering the country – so check when your passport was issued and when it is due to expire.
  • Most places in Europe will require you to have a least three months left on your passport on the date of departure from your destination – check the Foreign Office advice for the passport rules for your destination.

So, when checking if your passport will be valid for the dates of your trip, you need to check both the issue date and the expiry date in your passport. If you renewed your current passport early, extra months may have been added to its expiry date and this could affect the requirement for your passport to be less than 10 years old.

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.

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 less than 10 years old when entering the EU, so you just need to check it will meet the second rule – that there will be at least three months left on the passport on the date of departure from your destination.


Applying for or renewing your passport

Her Majesty's Passport Office (HMPO) is currently advising that it may take up to 10 weeks for applications to be processed when applying from the UK, so 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.



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.