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British Passports Technical Notice

What you need to know about travelling to European Union (EU) countries with a British passport, including the passports issued by the Crown Dependencies (Isle of Man, Jersey & Guernsey) and Gibraltar when the United Kingdom (UK) leaves the EU.

The purpose of this notice is to provide clarity to British passport holders (including the variant British passports issued by the Crown Dependencies and Gibraltar) regarding the changes to entry requirements for Schengen countries so that they can check whether their passport is valid and if necessary renew their passport before travelling. 

The entry requirements for British passport holders, including those with passports issued by the Crown Dependencies and Gibraltar, travelling to Schengen area countries will change after the UK leaves the EU. 

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, these changes will apply from 30 March 2019. 

It has always been the case that as the UK gets nearer to March 2019, preparations for a no deal scenario would have to be accelerated. Such an acceleration does not reflect an increased likelihood of a ‘no deal’ outcome - rather it is about ensuring plans are in place in the unlikely scenario that they need to be relied upon.

The technical notice sets out information to allow businesses and citizens to understand what they would need to do in a ‘no deal’ scenario, so they can make informed plans and preparations.

Before 30 March 2019

Most EU countries (though not the UK) are members of the Schengen Agreement. This agreement removes passport checks and border controls at the borders between countries within the Schengen area. People can travel around the area as if it is one country. 

As a member of the EU, British citizens are able to enter the Schengen Zone without any minimum or maximum passport validity restrictions. 

If you’re a British citizen, as an EU national, you’re currently able to enter the Schengen area if you have a valid passport. There’s no requirement for British passports to have a minimum or maximum validity period remaining when you enter or leave the Schengen area. 

The following are members of the Schengen Agreement: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. 

These EU countries are not in the Schengen area: Ireland, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Cyprus. 

When travelling to countries which are in the EU but outside of Schengen (eg. Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Cyprus), you should check the entry requirements before you travel.

From 30 March 2019 if there is no deal

From 30 March 2019, if you’re a British passport holder (including passports issued by the Crown Dependencies and Gibraltar), you’ll be considered a third country national under the Schengen Border Code and will therefore need to comply with different rules to enter and travel around the Schengen area. 

According to the Schengen Border Code, third country passports must:

  • Have been issued within the last 10 years on the date of arrival in a Schengen country 
  • Have at least 3 months validity remaining on the date of intended departure from the last country visited in the Schengen area. Because third country nationals can remain in the Schengen area for 90 days (approximately 3 months), the actual check carried out is that the passport has at least 6 months validity remaining on the date of arrival

If you plan to travel to the Schengen area from 30 March 2019, to avoid any possibility of your adult British passport not complying with the Schengen Border Code we suggest that you check the issue date and make sure your passport is no older than 9 years and 6 months on the day of travel. 

For example, if you’re planning to travel to the Schengen area on 30 March 2019, your passport should have an issue date on or after 1 October 2009

If your passport does not meet these criteria, you may be denied entry to any of the Schengen area countries. You should renew your passport before you travel to avoid any delay, as the passport issuing service can get busy, especially in the spring. 

If you are a parent or guardian

For 5-year child passports issued to under-16s, check the expiry date and make sure there will be at least 6 months validity remaining on the date of travel.

For example, a child planning to travel to the Schengen area on 30 March 2019 should have a passport with an expiry date on or after 1 October 2019

If a child’s passport does not meet these criteria, they may be denied entry to any of the Schengen area countries, and you should renew their passport before travel.

Travelling to countries which are in the EU but not in the Schengen area

For other countries that are in the EU but not in the Schengen area, you'll need to check the entry requirements for the country you're travelling to before you travel.

Travel to Ireland after EU Exit

Travel to Ireland is subject to separate Common Travel Area arrangements which will be maintained after the UK leaves the EU. 

Further details on travel to Ireland are available.

Passports with validity over 10 years (5 years for children)

Since 2001, some adult British passports were issued with validity longer than 10 years. This is because if you renewed your passport before it expired you were allowed to have the time left on your old passport added to your new passport. The maximum validity period possible was 10 years and 9 months. This means you can’t use the expiry date to check if your adult passport will be valid under the new rules.

From the beginning of September 2018 extra validity is no longer added to passports and the maximum validity for a new adult UK passport will be 10 years, and for a child passport will be 5 years.

This change has been made to follow recommendations set out by the International Civil Aviation Organisation and to help provide clarity about passport validity in the Schengen area in the future.

Crown Dependencies and Gibraltar variant British passports

If your British passport is a Crown Dependency or Gibraltar issued passport and you’re going to travel to a country in the Schengen Area from 30 March 2019, these new rules will also apply to you.

If your passport does not meet these criteria, you may be denied entry to any of the Schengen area countries, and you should renew your passport before you travel.

British passports issued from 30 March 2019

The design of the British passport will change after Britain leaves the EU. This will happen in two stages.

Passports printed between 30 March 2019 up until the introduction of the new passport design will be burgundy but will not include the words ‘European Union’ on the front cover. This includes passports issued by the Crown Dependencies and Gibraltar.

Blue passports will start being issued from late 2019.

If you renew your passport between late 2019 and early 2020, you’ll be automatically issued with either a blue or burgundy British passport.

Implications

There will be a number of Crown Dependencies and Gibraltar variant passports that do not meet the new criteria for travel to the Schengen Zone in 2019. In the event of ‘no-deal’, affected passport holders who intend to travel to the Schengen Zone will have to renew ahead of their travel in the spring or summer 2019.

You can apply for a new passport at Isle of Man Passport Office.

Find out about other ways of applying to renew your passport.

More information

This notice is meant for guidance only. You should consider whether you need separate professional advice before making specific preparations.

The UK is working to ensure they are fully prepared for all scenarios and will publish more information as soon as they can.

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