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How do I know if my passport is valid?

Learn more about how the new passport rules could affect your next holiday

A photo of Grace Lynch, the author

By Grace Lynch

Published on: 7 June 2021

5 min read

How do I know if my passport is valid?

It would be surprising if you had lived in this country the last few years and not heard about the impact of Brexit. Exiting the European Union has led to a lot of disruption and confusion – particularly around holidays and passports! 

Many travellers have arrived at airports ready to travel, only to realise too late that their passports aren’t valid now.  

Statistics and facts about UK passports 

Here we have some facts and figures about passports in the UK: 

  • 45.7 million people living in the UK have a UK passport 
  • 5.9 million people living in the UK have a non-UK passport 
  • 3.9 million people living in the UK have an EU passport 
  • 51.6 million people living in the UK have at least one passport 
  • The amount of people in the UK with a passport has increased by 3.2 million (2011-2021) 

*according to data from the 2021 Census 

What are the new Brexit passport rules? 

The travel industry has seen many changes due to Brexit (and of course the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic). Recent passport rule changes have been very confusing for many holiday makers, with many people now unsure if they can still use their current passport. 

Changes to passport rules mean: 

  • Passports must now be stamped at border control when you enter the EU and when you exit
  • The length of time needed to be left on your passport at the time of travel can vary depending on the country you are visiting 
  • British citizens with UK passports can no longer use the EU passport queue 

Will the new rules change my passport expiry date after Brexit? 

The main change to passport rules surrounds the passport expiry date and this is the thing that has been causing the most confusion.  

Previous passport rules stated: 

  • If your passport was issued before October 1st 2018, you could roll over any months you had left on a previous passport when you renewed it. E.g. if you had 2 months left when renewing you could carry these 2 months of travel time over to your new passport (to a maximum of 9 months) 

This rule no longer applies, so if you were counting on those additional months to be able to travel you will now need to renew your passport instead. Passports are now only valid for exactly 10 years from the date of issue. 

The new passport travel rules are: 

  • Your passport MUST have been issued within 10 years exactly of the date you enter the country you are visiting  
  • Your passport MUST also be valid for at least 3 months from the day you plan to leave the country you are visiting  

Where can I live with a British passport after Brexit? 

A key selling point of membership to the European Union was free movement (the ability to move to other European countries far more easily than ever before).  

Free movement allowed UK residents with an EU passport (as all UK passports were at the time) to use EU citizenship to move abroad to another country of their choosing with minimal hassle and documentation. 

As of 31st December 2020: 

  • Whether you can relocate to another country will depend on that country’s individual rules and immigration laws 
  • You will need a visa and other valid documentation to live in EU countries legally 

The good news for any UK nationals who were already living in another EU country before 1st January 2021 is that they should still have rights to stay.  

These were specified in the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement (WA) meaning there is no need to worry if you have lived for years in Spain for example – but you will need visas etc if you want to move to a different EU country. 

What are the passport requirements for Spain after Brexit?  

If you live in the UK, chances are you have been on holiday to Spain at least once in your life. 

This is a frequent holiday destination for many people in the UK, with cheap flights and sunny holidays readily available. In fact, over 22% of UK travellers chose to fly to Spain for their yearly holiday in 2021. 

Likelihood is you might have a holiday to Spain booked into your calendar and if this is the case: 

  • Your passport must have been issued within 10 years exactly of the date you are planning on travelling to Spain
  • Your passport needs to be valid for at least 3 months from the day you plan to travel home from Spain

If you have a holiday booked or are planning to book one soon, you might be wondering if you need to renew your passport before you travel. Below are all the countries affected by the new travel rules: 

Andorra  Lichtenstein 
Austria  Lithuania 
Belgium  Luxembourg 
Bulgaria  Malta 
Croatia Monaco 
Cyprus Netherlands 
Czech Republic Norway 
Denmark  Poland 
Estonia Portugal 
Finland Romania  
France San Marino 
Germany Slovakia  
Greece Slovenia 
Hungary Spain 
Iceland  Sweden 
Italy Switzerland 
Latvia Vatican City 

There are a couple of questions that have come up again and again following the passport rule changes and we’ve got the answers for you. 

Will my EU passport still be valid after Brexit? 

Yes, as long as your EU passport is still in date you should still be able to use it. It is best to make sure that you have plenty of time until your passport expires (as passports are now valid for exactly 10 years from the date of issue).  

There is no need to run out and renew your passport if you still have a year or two left on it, as it should still be valid. Leaving the EU isn’t an overnight process and other countries will still accept your EU passport for the time being. 

Can I still use my red passport after Brexit? 

Yes, the older style red passport will still be valid to use but new red (EU) passports will not be issued to people in the UK.  

What happens if I lose my passport on holiday? 

Losing your passport on holiday is a nightmare situation and can cause a massive amount of stress and scrambling to try and get a replacement in time for your flight home.  

If you lose your passport on holiday, you should: 

  • Contact the local police and UK embassy immediately (your travel insurance provider will need to see a police report to process your claim if your passport has been stolen)
  • Apply for emergency travel documents (the UK embassy should be able to help with this and you may need these if you won’t be able to get a new passport in time for your flight home) 
  • Contact your travel insurance provider 

RECOMMENDATION: We always advise making sure you have travel insurance in place before a holiday to cover you if your passport is lost or stolen, as most policies will cover loss of passport as standard.  

Travel insurance can be very reasonably priced, particularly for short trips and well worth it if you end up needing to cover large expenses such as new flights for yourself and your family members. You can speak to our travel insurance partner for more help and advice on what policies will be most suitable for you. 


UK Parliament – After Brexit: Visiting, working and living in the EU – Passport rules for travel to Europe 

Citizen’s Advice – Travelling in Europe 

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