Passport rules Britons must know before travelling to avoid being out of pocket

A valid passport is the most important document for travellers jetting abroad, but Britons may still face some challenges when journeying across borders. Here’s everything holidaymakers need to know – from passport expiry dates to the latest EU rules.

Individual holiday destinations may operate their own passport rules, but when it comes to the EU, there are a few blanket restrictions – including passport validity.

EU passport rules

British passport holders heading to countries in the European Union must know that their passport is only valid for 10 years from the date of issue.

This is different to the date of expiry which is looked at by many other countries.

The rule changed after Brexit when the EU decided they would no longer recognise “extra” months on a passport’s validity period.

Before September 2018, British passport holders could have up to nine months added to their passport expiry date if they renewed their 10-year passport early.

Now, the added months are no longer recognised.

Visitors must also have at least three months left on their passport beyond the date they intend to leave the EU’s free-movement Schengen territory, and return to the UK.

While these rules apply to most EU countries, travellers should also check specific destinations for other restrictions.

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Specific country requirements

Rules on passport validity are different in the likes of Australia, Canada and the USA, all of which determine validity per individual.

They ask that Britons have the length of their stay in equivalent months left on their passport before the expiry date.

So a person staying for four months would require this period as a minimum.

Elsewhere in China, Thailand, Turkey and Egypt, visitors need at least six months left before their passport expires. This is double the amount required for most EU countries.

Passport renewal guidelines

An expired passport is obvious grounds for a renewal but frequent travellers may not know that a lack of black pages also warrants a new document – even if it’s still in date.

If the booklet is filled up with stamps on each page, visitors must renew their passports to allow at least two entirely blank pages.

This rule applies in South Africa, Angola, Chad, and Kenya, though some countries require more.

Mozambique, Zambia, Madagascar and Botswana ask for three blank pages, while travellers headed for Namibia need six full pages free.

The cost of renewing a passport is impossible to avoid but renewing online rather than by post is cheaper.

A standard online application made from within the UK costs £82.50 for adults and £53.50 for children. Meanwhile, postal applications will leave adult applications £93 out of pocket and £64 for children.

In general, how you choose to renew your passport could end up costing a family of four £40 more than it should.

Urgent passports are available via the online “premium” service which offers bookable appointments at a local passport office. The earliest Britons will get an appointment is two days from the date of application.

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