The six month rule: don’t let it ruin your holiday

You’re grabbing that last minute cheap break; your bags are packed, and you’ve got your passport. It’s valid and even your passport photo looks pretty good. You’re ready to hit the beach and top up your tan before the cold weather sets in. Now stop and check your passport again. Depending on your destination, your passport may need to have at least six months validity left before its expiration date.

Travelling to the EU

Until the government finally triggers Article 50, British citizens still enjoy the right to travel freely in the EU. And if your passport is in date you’re free to travel, even if it’s due to expire the day after you travel. If you do have to push things that close to the wire, be aware that you will need to contact your nearest British Embassy for a permit to travel back to the UK. It’s a costly and time consuming procedure and best avoided by planning ahead but the implication is clear – for travelling in the EU, so long as your passport is in date, you’re free to travel.

Going further afield

The situation gets a little more complicated when you travel outside the EU. Countries including Brazil, Ecuador, Turkey, Tunisia and Israel all require that you have at least six months’ validity left on your passport before you leave the UK. Some countries, like New Zealand and South Africa, also require that your passport still has at least 30 days validity left once you exit the country.

Check with your booking agent or airline

If you’re unsure – and the six month rule can be confusing – check with your booking agent or airline. They should be able to advise you on all passport related issues, plus flagging up whether you need a visa to travel to your chosen destination.

There’s nothing worse than missing out on a dream holiday because of passport issues. So if your passport is close to its expiration date, plan ahead and get your new passport photos ordered so you’re ready to renew when the time comes.

Photo: Calendar* by DafneCholet licensed under Creative commons 2

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