Foreign Office finally aligns with EU on passport validity

The Foreign Office has corrected its travel advice on passport validity for the EU to align with the European Commission and all the major airlines.

It now reflects the two tests that any British passport must pass for travel to the European Union and the wider Schengen Area.

The advice for Spain has been changed to tell UK travellers their passport must be:

Advice on France, Italy and other destinations is expected to be updated in the coming hours.

Previously the FCDO travel advice for countries in the European Union and Schengen Area included the misleading statement: “For some Schengen countries your passport may need to be less than 10 years old during your whole visit, and the three months at the end of your visit may need to be within 10 years of your passport’s issue date.”

The Independent made its own enquiries and received official confirmation correspondence from the European Commission last November.

On 10 November 2021, the correspondence was passed on to the Foreign Office with a request “to ensure that all communications from the UK government recognise the correct European Union position”.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “FCDO travel advice is kept under constant review to ensure British travellers are aware of the risks and have accurate information to help plan their trip.

“We welcome that the European Commission is now updating its guidance in regards to their rules affecting some UK passports”

The ambivalence in the UK government position has caused widespread confusion and distress.

It has also put extra pressure on HM Passport Office, with many travellers seeking to renew passports which are perfectly valid for travel to Europe unnecessarily early.

Airlines such as easyJet and Ryanair previously used the Foreign Office travel advice as grounds for denying boarding to passengers who were perfectly entitled to travel.

All the major airlines are now aligned with the European Commission rules; Ryanair was the last to fall into line.


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