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13th May 2022, 14:56

Travelling to Schengen? Check your passport against validity requirements

Whether you're planning to fly to another European country, or simply to cross into Spain, you might want to check that your passport's validity is within the necessary timeframe - and that you have enough time to renew it if not.

In response to GBC questions, the the Government said the current processing time for renewing a British passport is between twelve to sixteen weeks; they say the Gibraltar variant takes between 15 to 20 days.

A recent report by Sky News found that some British travellers to Europe have been turned away from departure gates because their documents didn't meet requirements.

The UK Government's advice states that your passport must be less than ten years old on the day you enter the EU country, and valid for at least three months after the day you plan to leave. This is in line with the guidelines from the EU itself, although it's recommended that you actually ensure there's six months' validity left on your passport from the date of arrival, since third country nationals can remain in Schengen for 90 days, and this longer requirement could be enforced by authorities.

The UK Government says it's asking the European Commission to clarify the ten-year rule - adding until then, for some Schengen countries, your passport may need to be less than ten years old during your whole visit, and the three months following the end of your stay may need to be within ten years of the issue date.

It advises people to contact their travel provider, or the embassy of the country you're visiting, if you think your passport doesn't meet the requirements - adding that you should renew your passport if you need to. However, Sky News reports long processing times, with the Passport Office saying it's seeing "unprecedented demand" as travel recovers after the height of the pandemic.

In its guidance booklet for a scenario with no UK-EU treaty for the Rock's future relationship with the union - and with no such treaty as yet agreed - the Gibraltar Government says you will need to have at least six months left on your passport from the date you need to use it. It adds if you renewed a passport before it expired, up to nine extra months may have been added to the the expiry date, but that any extra months over ten years may not count towards the six months that should be remaining for travel to most countries in Europe. The Government also advises passport holders to check the entry requirements for other countries that are in the EU but not in the Schengen area.

Meanwhile, although at the moment red ID card holders are exempt from having their passports stamped at the border, some may find it in their interest to ask for a stamp if they're travelling to a country other than Spain. One Gibraltarian told GBC how the authorities in Germany questioned the lack of a Schengen entry stamp, being unfamiliar with the Gibraltar-specific bridging measures that exempted her from being stamped when first entering Schengen via Spain.