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Passport 6 Month Rule

german passport on a map

A passport is a travel document issued by your origin country which allows you to travel internationally. Usually, an ordinary passport is valid for 5 to 10 years, and because of this, most people neglect to check if their passport is about to expire. However, if your passport has less than 3 or 6 months left until expiration, most countries do not allow you to travel.

Don’t forget a passport is different from a traveling visa, and as such, they are not valid for the same amount of time.

What Is the Passport 6 Month Rule?

The 6-month passport rule states that your passport must be valid for another six months before you depart for international travel. Depending on which country you are traveling to, the six-month period may begin from the date you leave that country or the date you arrive.

However, not all countries follow the six-month requirement; some countries require that you have a passport with a three-month duration period. This requirement changes based on where you are traveling and sometimes even based on your nationality. For this reason, you are strongly advised to renew your passport or check with an embassy or consulate what the requirements are.

Why Should My Passport Be Valid for Six Months If I Will Stay Abroad for Less?

Your passport needs to be valid for 6 months to prevent you from overstaying in a foreign country. Suppose your passport expires during your travels, then you are left without a way to return home until you receive an emergency travel document. To avoid this from happening, countries began imposing the “six/three-month passport validity” rule.

What Countries Have a Six-Month Passport Validity Rule?

The countries listed here require you to have a passport with a period of at least 6 months upon arrival:

AlgeriaIndonesiaSaudi Arabia
BahrainIraqSolomon Islands
British Virgin IslandsKenyaSri Lanka
Cayman IslandsMarshall IslandsThailand
Central African RepublicMicronesiaTimor-Leste
Côte D’IvoireNicaraguaTuvalu
EcuadorOmanUnited Arab Emirates
El SalvadorPapua New GuineaVenezuela
Equatorial GuineaPhilippinesVietnam
Guinea BissauSaint Lucia

*Please note that the six-month rule in Canada may change depending on your country of origin— check with an embassy before traveling.

Countries With a Three-Month Passport Validity Requirement

You can travel to these countries with a three-month valid passport:

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Bosnia and HerzegovinaMontenegro
FinlandNew Zealand
FranceNorth Macedonia*

*These countries require a 3-month passport validity from your arrival date into the country. Schengen countries require that you have a passport validity of 3 months from the date you intend to leave the EU.

Countries With Other Passport Validity Requirements

Besides the six-month or three-month passport requirement, some countries require other validity periods:

CountryPassport Validity Period
Bermuda45 days upon entry
Eritrea3 months on arrival
Hong Kong3 months on arrival
Lebanon3 months on arrival
Macau3 months on arrival
Micronesia4 months on arrival
South Africa3 months on arrival
The Maldives3 months on arrival
Zambia4 months on arrival

Are There Any Exceptions to the Passport Six-Month Rule?

There are a few exceptions to this rule; for example, you can enter Paraguay as long as your passport is valid, no matter the validity period. Certain other countries may have bilateral agreements with one another to shorten the six-month passport requirement or eliminate it altogether. It all depends on your destination and your country of residence- contact a representative office before departure.

Can I Travel If My Passport Expires in Less Than Six Months?

In normal circumstances, you can’t travel with a passport that expires in less than six months. However, a country with an active agreement with your destination country may allow it. You may even enter with an expired passport in some countries as long as you still have the document with you.

Could I Be Denied Entry Abroad If My Passport Expires Soon?

Yes, you will be denied entry abroad if your passport is about to expire. Additionally, if you need a visa, you won’t receive one with a passport with a validity of less than six (sometimes three) months.

For this reason, you have to make sure that your passport is up-to-date before you travel. If it’s not, then apply for a renewal at your local authority at least a month before.

What If My Passport Expires Abroad?

If your passport expires while you are abroad, contact the embassy or consulate of your country and apply for an emergency travel document. You must remember that most travel emergency documents are valid only until you re-enter your home country; afterward, you must apply for a new passport.

Remember: You cannot leave for your country of residence with an expired passport- wait for the embassy/consulate to help you.

Is my passport valid for travel to Europe?

If your passport is more than ten years old or there is less than three months before it expires, you may not be able to use it to travel to countries within the EU. The rules came into effect after Brexit, with Ireland being the only exception. Here’s what you need to know.

Main photo: Alamy

What documents do I need to travel from the UK?

A valid passport is essential for travelling outside of the UK. For travel to the EU and EFTA countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), it needs to be less than ten years old when you enter the country and have at least three months left on it the day after you leave. The only exception is if you are travelling to Ireland — which is part of the Common Travel Area with the UK — where you can travel up to the day your passport expires.

Depending on where you are travelling to, for what purpose and for how long, you may also need to get a visa. After Brexit, UK nationals are only permitted to stay in EU countries for a maximum of 90 days out of 180, after which a visa or other entry permit may be needed. You will need to check the entry requirements for each individual country you are visiting.

If you are planning to drive or hire a car, you will need to take your driving licence. And if you only have a paper version of the licence, or your licence was issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man, you may need to apply for an International Driving Licence, which costs £5.50 from the Post Office. Those taking their own cars across the border will also need relevant insurance and vehicle registration details as well as a UK sticker on the vehicle.

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When travelling to EU countries, you may also want to apply for and take your UK Global Health Insurance Card (UK GHIC). This free benefit replaced the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for most UK nationals after Brexit. It entitles you to the same access to public medical care as residents. In some cases, having the card with you is a requisite of ensuring your travel insurance is valid.

Can you travel to Europe without a passport from the UK?

In most cases, you will need your passport to travel to Europe. Ireland is the only exception, although the government still advises taking your passport with you, and airlines will typically insist on it.

What if I lose my passport?

If you have lost your passport, or you do not have time to get a new one before you travel, you may be able to apply for an emergency travel document. These cost £100 and you will need to attend a British embassy in person after you have applied online. The document contains your exact itinerary and if you decide to change your plans at the last minute you will need a new document.

Can you travel with an expired passport within Europe?

In theory, yes, because land borders within the Schengen area are open and ID checks are only carried out in exceptional circumstances. For example, the Spanish government has said that its citizens may enter the country on an expired passport or ID after its authenticity has been checked; however, a valid travel document is still required to leave the country. In the case of the UK, your passport will be checked at all border controls and you will need to make sure it’s valid for travel.

Passport control at Heathrow Airport

Passport control at Heathrow Airport (Getty Images)

How long do you need on your passport to travel to Spain?

Like most countries in the EU, Spain requires those travelling on a British passport to have at least three months remaining after the day you plan to leave. You also need to check that it is less than ten years old when you enter Spain.

How long do you need on your passport to travel to Greece?

For Greece, the usual EU passport validity rules apply. This means it needs to be less than ten years old when you enter the country and have at least three months left on it the day after you leave.

How long do you need on your passport to travel to Portugal?

EU passport validity rules also apply in Portugal. So your passport needs to be less than ten years old when you enter the country and have at least three months left on it the day after you leave.

How long do you need on your passport to travel to the USA?

For entry into the USA, your passport needs to be valid for the duration of your stay although it doesn’t need to have any additional validity on it. However, you may need an Esta or visa for entry.

How long do you need on your passport to travel to Turkey?

Turkey requires UK passport holders to have at least six months remaining on their passports from the day they arrive. It also needs to have a full blank page for the entry and exit stamps.

Take me there

Wanting to visit Europe but yet to book your trip? Here are the best packages from TUI Holidays* and Expedia*. And if you’re still unsure of where you want to go or what type of holiday to book, get in touch here and one of the Designer Travel experts will be in contact to help you arrange your perfect tailor-made break.

Here’s a selection of some of the best European tour itineraries from our Times Travel partners.

The days of easy-breezy travel to the EU have changed. Here are the new travel rules you need to know

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How many months do I need on my passport to travel to Europe? Post-Brexit rules explained – and when to renew

Stricter passport rules and a faulty Home Office website have caused confusion for many families looking to travel overseas this summer

The Home Office has relaunched its online passport checker, after the service was taken down for generating false negative results for some children’s travel documents.

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The faulty website was removed last week after thousands of families were wrongly informed that their children would not be admitted into countries in the European Union.

A new version of the system corrects the error which had failed to recognise extra months added to a child’s passport as valid, informing them that they could not travel to the EU.

Stricter passport rules for British citizens visiting the EU came into effect after Brexit. These new rules, along with the faulty Government website have caused confusion for many families looking to travel overseas this summer.

Here’s what you need to know about the new passport rules for visiting the EU.

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What has changed since Brexit?

Before Brexit, British citizens could travel to any nation in the EU, up to and including the expiry date on their passport.

Since Brexit day on 31 December 2020, British citizens are treated the same as any other “third country nationals”.

How many months do I need on my passport?

To enter the EU, you’ll need at least three months left on your passport on the day you plan on leaving the EU.

The EU’s official website says: “If you are a non-EU national wishing to visit or travel within the EU, you will need a passport:

  • Valid for at least three months after the date you intend to leave the EU country you are visiting
  • Which was issued within the previous 10 years

Why is the ‘issued within the previous 10 years’ part important?

Before Brexit, the Government would issue passports for ten years, plus the extra months of validity left on your old passport, meaning that many passport holders will have document that is valid for more than 10 years.

Now that British passport holders are not EU citizens, these extra months are no longer valid for travel in the EU.

Travellers nearing the end of a passport’s validity who try to travel within these extra “bonus months” could be barred from entering the EU.

If the EU says three months, why does the UK Government advise having six months left on a passport?

Out of an abundance of caution the Government advises travelling with at least six months left on your passport.

This would protect all passengers, even those staying in Europe for the full 90 days allowed for UK tourists, from any chance of overstaying in the EU beyond the three month cut-off point.

EU border agents will quickly do the same maths, theoretically making them less likely to demand evidence of a return ticket to the UK before letting you enter the country. Presuming that you don’t plan on breaking the law by staying in the EU for more than 90 days, they’ll know that you will be home before the three month mark.

It is always a good practice to aim for six months or more validity left on your passport anyway. Many popular holiday destinations outside the EU, such as Turkey, require a passport that is valid for at least six months from the date you enter.

Where can I check if my passport is valid for travel?

You can visit the newly relaunched online passport checker on the Home Office website. You’ll need to type in the country you’re visiting, your date of birth and your passport expiry issue and expiry date.

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What if I still don’t trust the Home Office website?

If you want to double check your result, you can visit where they’ve created their own tool that enables UK citizens, as well as other foreign nationals, to check their passport’s validity for travel to the EU.

What about travel to Ireland?

Ireland is part of the Common Travel Area, meaning that you don’t need a passport at all the enter the republic. However, some airlines do mandate a passport anyway, as a form of ID.




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