THE INSIDE TRACK • July 2022
Rules for British passport holders jetting off into the Schengen area have changed slightly since Brexit. But don’t panic – here’s our guide to the golden rules, which will have you breezing through border control in no time…
The ‘new rules’ aren’t exactly new: they have long been applied to travellers from non-EU countries and, since leaving the EU, the UK is now subject to them. You may never have had to think about that date de délivrance before but, before you travel, make sure your passport is less than ten years old from the date of issue on the day you plan to arrive in the Schengen area. So, if you’re due to arrive on the 16 July 2022, your passport should have been issued no earlier than 17 July 2012.
If you’ve looked at all the above and worked out you’re in need of a new travel document, apply for a new passport as soon as possible, as the passport renewal process can take up to ten weeks or more. Remember to get those cover model-worthy passport photos taken in good time, and you’ll be brandishing a shiny new passport (sans stamps, scuffs and any other signs of frequent use) to the next border control officer.
The next rule involves checking the all-important expiry date. Although your passport is still valid up to and on the day of its expiry in many of our long-haul destinations, such as the US, Canada and Australia, Schengen countries require that your passport has at least three months’ validity on the date of your return to the UK.
Even if you follow all the other rules, if your passport isn’t signed, your passport isn’t valid. The advice is sign your passport as soon as you get it on the ‘holder’s signature’ line using black ballpoint pen.
We know you can’t get enough of Europe, but there is a limit to how much time you’re allowed to spend there. In a 180-day period, you can spend a maximum of 90 days in the Schengen area (that’s most of the EU, plus Iceland, Switzerland, Norway and a smattering of smaller countries). So, that gives you almost three months in total to explore our EU destinations, before taking a well-earned break at home (or away) for the remaining 90 days, ready for take-off to Europe again as soon as you’re allowed.
Pro tip: This 90-day rule doesn’t apply if you fly to Ireland, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia or Cyprus, so any time you spend in these countries won’t count towards your 90 Schengen days.
You probably hear this every time you receive a booking confirmation, but we’re going to say it louder for the people at the back – always check the entry requirements for your destination, as the rules may differ from country to country, and extra documentation may sometimes be needed.