Denied Boarding: Is Your Passport Still Valid After Brexit?

Update: I got a refund from Easyjet via ADR – see my update below.

On Thursday 21 October 2021 I stood at the gate at Manchester Airport waiting to board the 15:45 Easyjet flight to Malaga, Spain. I was with my friend. We were going on a three night trip, coming back on Sunday 24. And we were running through a checklist of requirements for flying: passport, boarding passes, NHS Covid Pass, QR code for entering Spain. I had all of these documents on phone apps and with printed copies in my hand. At home I had a PRC test ready for day 2 of my return. We’d pre-booked the usual – airport car parking, apartment in Spain, day at the wonderful Hammam al Andalus. We’d done everything we should but we were still jittery travellers because these are jittery travel times. 

With the exception of a quick, last-minute jaunt to Greece the previous summer, my last flight had been stressful AF. It was March 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic and I’d been repatriating back to the UK after months of long-term travel in Central America. KLM had cancelled my flight the night before and I’d barely managed to get a seat on the last flight leaving San Jose heading home. I had to fly west to LA to get back east to the UK. We were in mandatory lockdown when I landed at Heathrow. It was the most stressful (and expensive) flying experience of my life.

That stress was still haunting me as I stepped up to have my passport checked by the Easyjet crew. But in my gut I knew I was ok. I’d read the new covid rules back to front and sideways. I was expecting a quick check before following my friend down the gangway onto the flight.

Easyjet: “Your Passport has expired”

“I’m sorry. Your passport has expired,” Easyjet said.

That phrase would make most people’s blood run cold. Not me. I’m a travel writer. I can quote my passport number, issue and expiry dates without even opening my purple book. So, I knew my passport didn’t expire until 15 August 2022, over nine months away. “It hasn’t expired,” I told Easyjet with absolute confidence. 

“It has,” he replied, “because of the new Brexit rules.” That’s when my blood did run cold.

While the rest of the plane boarded, we were taken to one side and Easyjet explained that since Brexit my passport expiry date was no longer valid. According to Easyjet, the correct way to find out your new expiry date is to look at your issue date, add 10 years, then minus 3 month (because every country requires you have a minimum validity left on your passport before travel).

Taking Easyjet at its word, my passport had, indeed expired.

Issue date: 15 November 2011

Add 10 years: 15 November 2021

Minus 3 months: 15 August 2021. That was my new expiry date according to Easyjet. NOT 15 August 2022. It was 21 October 2021, my expiry date had long passed.

For this reason, I was not allowed to board the flight. Understandably, my friend didn’t board either. 

Except Easyjet got it wrong

Unless it’s happened to you, it’s hard to imagine the tsunami of emotions that come over you as you’re escorted back through security. I’d messed up, big time; at something that was part of my job. All that faffing and stressing over the Covid requirements was irrelevant because, somewhere in the middle of Brexit, I’d completely missed a major rule change, and in doing so, I’d screwed up the weekend trip for me and my friend. The time off work, her time away from her kids, the effort and energy and let’s not forget the hundreds of pounds we’d each spent that we wouldn’t get back (since no airline or insurance will reimburse an act of stupidity). 

I was beside myself with shock, disbelief, guilt, shame, frustration, anger (at myself) and then some anger at the [email protected] Brexit Government. Why wasn’t this more clear? Why wasn’t there a bus driving round with ‘Your Passport Expiry Date is no longer valid’ slapped on the side. I recalled there had been a radio campaign saying you needed three months’ validity remaining on your passport post-Brexit but I had always worked with six, as other countries required; my expiry was nine months away; my passport was fine. Or so I thought.  

At the same time, I was desperately re-grouping and scrambling to make plans for how to have a staycation that could even remotely make up for the lack of 29 degree heat in Malaga. My friend gets 100 out of 10 stars for being the most understanding person ever. She told me not to worry. She told me it wasn’t my fault. She told me we’d make the best of it. And we decided we’d just put it behind us.

Except, pair of lawyers that we are (her still practising, me not), over the next couple of days, sandwiched in between fancy dinners and massages to make up for not away, we turned to Google and, guess what, as nice as the staff were about denying us boarding, Easyjet was wrong

My passport was still valid. And, like hundreds of others before me, I had wrongly been denied boarding due to misinterpretation of the post-Brexit rules. 

That’s when the fury really did set in. 

How did Easyjet get it so wrong?

With the benefit of a couple of days to calm down, I’m still furious. When I did practice law, I specialised in consumer protection so this is exactly the kind of injustice that makes my blood boil. How could such a big Airline could get it so wrong? And it’s not just Easyjet – other airlines have made the same mistake. The answer is, they’ve been relying on the UK Government guidelines and those guidelines are as clear as mud.  

The Gov.UK Passport Guidance

Having been denied boarding, I decided to check the rules so I could understand what they were post-Brexit. Like most people, I went to the UK Government website to get the official information. Below is a screenshot from the Gov.UK Passport Rules For Travel To Europe. This is the main consumer page for checking the passport validity rules. These rules are shockingly (negligently, illegally?) unclear.

A quick disclaimer – I’m not an expert in international law and I never was. I no longer practice law and I’m not giving legal advice. What I am doing here is sharing my understanding of the rules, to help point you in the right direction, since the official sources of advice are so confusing.

Also: this article is about to get very technical as I dig into the details of the rules. If you’re worried about your passport validity and you’re checking the rules, these next couple of sections are for you. Everyone else, you might want to skip down How Do I Check If My Passport Is Valid?

If you’ve read the above guidance and thought ‘what?’, you’re not alone (I’ve added the coloured highlighting). This page is confusing on multiple levels:  

Do you need 6 month or 3 months remaining? The first error is recommending you have 6 months left on your passport. Sure, this is great advice (like driving 26 in a 30 zone) but it’s not the legal requirement. The legal requirement is 3 months. And it is the European Union together with individual European countries that set these rule. Not the UK government. The above is just their guidance. Yes, having 6 months on your passport is better but if you’re at the gate and have 4.5 month left, you should not be refused boarding. Yet, this has happened to countless people because the airlines have been applying a 6 month requirement based on this Government advice. The government’s reply: they’re being abundantly cautious. That, my travel friends, is not ok. It’s also not legal (it’s called acting ultra vires i.e. outside their power). 

Why does the Government assume we’re all going backpacking for 3 months? The Government says that they recommends you have 6 months on your passport so that you can freely travel around Europe for up to 3 months and still have the required 3 months remaining on your passport when you come home. I’m all for a long trip but surely the vast majority of people travelling to Europe post-Brexit are taking weekend breaks and 2-week holidays. They’re not swanning off round Europe for the entire summer. To mention this anywhere other than in a footnote just adds to the confusion. Also: it’s not correct (I’ve put the correct answer below).

The 10 year rule – this is the rule I’ve highlighted in red. It’s the rule that is most likely to impact people post-Brexit. It’s the rule that Easyjet got wrong. And it’s the rule that should have been slapped on the side of a bus in big writing. It’s a rule I’ll cover in more detail below so you can fully understand what it means because the Governments summary of it is not nearly clear enough. Not least because it says any extra months on your passport ‘may not’ count. Excuse my indignation but there is no place for ‘may not’ in a legal requirement. ‘May not’ is what your mate down the pub says when she doesn’t know the answer. Legally the extra months count or they don’t count. If the Government isn’t confident enough in their own understanding of the rules to give us a definitive answer, how the [email protected] are the rest of us supposed to work them out? 

When do you start counting your 3 months remaining? According to the Government Guidance you count it ‘on the day you travel’…or is it ‘on the day after you leave’…the guidance unhelpfully says both. Worse, neither tells us whether this is travelling from the UK or from the EU. So, if you do go backpacking for 3 months, do you need to have 3 months from the day you leave the UK or from the day you leave the EU after your 3 months abroad? Because that will make a difference. Again, I answer this below

What about the Government passport checker? 

You’ll see that the guidance page includes a link to a passport checker. Unsurprisingly it’s is no better. I clicked on the link, input my issued and expiry dates and just got a similar (but not exactly the same) summary of the above rules (pictured above). They did, of course, recommend (but not require) that I renew my passport even though I did not NEED a new passport for this trip. It was valid for travel. To explain why my passport was valid for Malaga, we need to talk about the 10 year rule. 

The 10 year passport validity rule

Let’s look at that red section again. This rule makes more sense when you understand how passport validity used to work. 

Passports are typically issued for 10 year periods. However, until 2018, if you renewed your passport before the expiry date, any unexpired months would be rolled over onto your new passport. People renew early for all kinds of reasons – lost and stolen passports, passports that have been filled with stamps (in my case) and name changes like marriage or divorce. The result –  there are lots of people out there with passports that are valid for longer than 10 years because of these extra months. My passport had a 10 year and nine month validity period and that’s not uncommon.

Since Brexit, these extra months have become more important than most of us realise.  For people who have extra months on their passport, their passport ‘expiry date’ is no longer accurate when travelling to Europe.

What the holy…what…wait…is that true? 

Yes. The European rules and, to be fair, the Gov.UK rules, clearly state that in order to travel to Europe your passport can’t be more than 10 years old.

Using my passport as an example, my issue date was 15 November 2011 meaning my passport becomes 10 years old on 15 November 2021. I tried to board my flight on 21 October 2021. My passport was less than 10 years old. However, had I tried to travel a few weeks later, from 15 November 2021, I wouldn’t have been allowed, even though I still have 9 months validity left on my passport according to the expiry date of 15 August 2022. 

I don’t know anybody who looks at their passport expiry date and questions whether it’s right or might have changed. But it may not be right. Under the 10 year rule my passport is no longer valid for travel to Europe from 15 November 2021. 

See the problem? And it gets worse…

The 10 year and the 3 month rules together

This is what bit me on the backside at the gate. If you remember, Easyjet told me that the correct way to find out your ‘real’ expiry date post-Brexit, is to look at your issue date, add 10 years, then minus 3 month. Easyjet told me that my extra months (up to 15 August 2022) did not count towards the minimum 3 months I needed remaining on my passport.

If you’ve really been paying attention (well done, it is complicated), you’ll remember this a repetition of what the Gov.UK website says: “If you renew your passport before the previous one expired, extra months may have been added to the expiry date. Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the minimum period needed.”

However, Easyjet have hardened that ‘may not’ to an absolute ‘cannot’. 

But here’s the thing – any extra months over 10 months CAN count towards the minimum period needed. Because the European rules say so, the European Commission have confirmed it, and Easyjet has admitted it. This is a very good summary, taken from a great article by Simon Calder in The Independent.

The Independent article goes on to say: “someone with a passport issued on 2 October 2011 that is valid to 2 April 2022 would be able to travel out to the EU any time up to 1 October 2021. They could stay for up to 90 days, until 30 December 2021.” This is far more flexible than the UK Government suggests, and The Independent has heard of multiple people being wrongly denied boarding despite complying with these requirements. 

Interestingly, I can’t find that Easyjet ‘updated policy and website wording’ which makes this clear. And, based on my experience of being denied boarding at Manchester Airport, the updated policy hasn’t been properly communicated to ground staff either. 

What are the new EU passport validity rules after Brexit?

This might leave you wondering – what the hell are the new rules if the UK Government and airlines can’t get it right? 

A wise lawyer once said to me, always go back to the law. Any interpretation or summary of it may be inaccurate or confusing. So, I went back to the law which is the Schengen Borders Code (European Regulation 2016/399). Those regulations are wonderfully and plainly clear (I’m trying not to dissolve into a Brexit rant).

The Regulations say that third country nationals i.e. UK citizens can enter European countries if they have a valid travel document (passport) that:

1) is valid for at least 3 months after the intended departure date from Europe;

2) has been issued within the previous 10 years (on the day you enter/arrive in Europe).

How do I check if my passport is valid?

Taking those very clear rules, here’s a handy checklist:

1) Your passport must not be more than 10 years old on the date that you arrive in Europe.

2) Your passport expiry date (the one printed in your passport) must have at least 3 months left on it from the date when you leave the EU (e.g. come home). 

3) This 3-month period can include any extra months that have been added on from a previous passport/which extend your passport beyond 10 years.

4) However, if you have had extra months added to your passport, your expiry date may no longer be accurate. For those passports you have to look at your issued date and add 10 years and 3 months (from the date you plan to leave Europe) to get your new expiry date for travel to Europe. In effect, this means most passports with more than 6 months added will have an invalid expiry date.

Let me know in the comments if you’d find it helpful for me to draw up a flow chart of these rules to help you check. 

Will the new Brexit Passport requirements impact me?

The new rules will impact a lot of people but they won’t impact everyone. And this only relates to travel to Europe. Who is at most risk of being denied boarding?

  • You’re travelling to Europe on the old purple passport (purple passports are still valid but may have validity issues). 
  • If your passport expiry date is longer than 10 years i.e. you had extra months added on, typically for passports issued before 2018 (still valid but check the expiry date). 
  • Your passport is more than 10 years old when you plan to travel, based on your issue date (in this case your passport is not valid).
  • Your passport has an expiry date that’s more than 10 years and 6 months after issue (in this case your expiry date is no longer correct). 

Note, the rules seem to be different for travelling to ROI. I have not looked into those rules and they are not covered in this article. 

What should you do next?

If you have time, apply for a new passport: I hate that my ultimate advice is: if you’re not sure and your passport is close to 10 years old, renew it. I say this because, as much as the law is the law, nobody in the history of ever has managed to convince airline ground staff at the gate that they are right and the airline is wrong. If, like me, you’re in great need of a relaxing trip, being turned away at the gate is something you want to avoid at all costs.

Applying for a new passport: I got home and made a panic application for a new passport (it’s my job – I need a valid passport). Be aware that the expedited passport application process has changed since Brexit and Covid and you will need to make a face to face appointment at your nearest passport office. There aren’t many offices and appointments book up fast. And, of course, the application is expensive. I’ve paid £187 (£10 more because I wanted extra pages). That’s more than twice the price of a standard go-slow application and still isn’t all that quick. Unless I was prepared to drive to Glasgow, my nearest passport office didn’t have an appointment available for 9 days. I’ve made the online application so I’ll get my passport back on the day of my appointment. For offline/paper applications you need to wait a further week, and you still need an appointment. If you want to go down the standard application route, note that the passport office has a 10-week estimated turn-around time at the time of writing. I suspect this will get worse as people venture back out and start to travel again. Lots of passports will have expired during the pandemic and the race will be on.

If you’re at the gate and you’re being refused boarding: there’s a chance you’re reading this because you’re at the gate and you’ve been refused boarding. It’s a horrible, horrible experience. Feel free to message me on social media if I can help or leave a comment below. Otherwise, show the ground staff this article written by the Independent newspaper (I accept my credibility isn’t as powerful as a huge newspaper that’s already covered this topic). Ask to speak to a manager and ask them to phone their manager all the way up to head office. You may not have any luck but politely keep insisting until the plane has taken off. If that doesn’t get you on board your flight, you’re in the unfortunate position of having to make a claim.

If you’ve wrongly been denied boarding

I am at a slight advantage because I know my rights but I did have to spend a lot of time researching them, and it doesn’t make the complaint process any easier, less time consuming, quicker or less stressful. Here’s my tips for dealing with the situation if you have been denied boarding.

Stay calm: yes, you’re rightly angry but ranting and shouting at the airline isn’t going to get you any further forward.

Know your rights: If your airline is a European Airline (Easyjet has its head office in Austria), you are covered by the Air Passenger Rights Regulations (261/2004). There’s a good summary here. I find it almost hilarious that it is European consumer protection rules that are helping me when I’ve been denied boarding due to incorrect interpretation of the rules post Brexit. 

Check the airline’s website: A google search of your airline name plus ‘denied boarding terms and conditions’ should hopefully give you the page on the website where you can find out your rights (airlines are required to tell you). The Easyjet page is here.

Find the best way to contact the airline: Most usefully, the Easyjet terms give me a link to a dedicated form for passengers who have been denied boarding. This will hopefully save me having to go through the standard customer service contact form which has a 28 day response time and I’m guessing a low success rate since this is a very specific and technical claim.

Try the airline’s social media: yesterday I reached out to Easyjet via social media. I wanted a comment before I publish this article as well as the best contact details. I have yet to receive a reply, but if you can’t find the best contact route, try social media. I’d suggest a private message over a public rant but that’s up to you. 

Gather your receipts: in some ways, claiming against an airline is very similar to claiming on travel insurance. I have a whole article about how to make an insurance claim. Many of the tips in there will help. Especially…

Expect this to take time: my last insurance claim (for my pandemic repatriation) took over 50 emails, 18 months and involved me requesting a referral to the ombudsman. I was successful but it wasn’t quick or easy. Let your claim tick along in the background and get on with your life. 

Persist! What the airlines are doing is wrong. You’ve had a terrible experience when you should have had a nice trip and you deserve to be compensated for that (and the law agrees). Don’t let them get away with it, the [insert your favourite swearword here].

What’s next for me: today I’ll fill in the Easyjet form. Then I will put it on my to-do list as something to follow up, and I’ll try to forget it. In a week I’ll pick up my new passport. In just over two weeks I’ll try again. I have a trip booked to the USA and as stressed as I feel about it, I’m really hoping that one day this Easyjet experience will be just another travel tale I tell down the pub. 

Please share this article

I had intended to write this as a Facebook post to share with my readers but I think the issue is too important and not enough people understand it. I was wildly disappointed at not being able to travel to Malaga. It was a trip that got cancelled at the beginning of the pandemic so it was already 18 months overdue. It was the first time I’d left the country in over a year. More than 2 years for my friend. It was a trip back to the place I’d gone to grieve the death of my mum, and I was hoping it would be a happier trip. But it could have been far worse. I can’t help thinking of people who are travelling to funerals or to see sick family members one last time. Or people who have their entire family with them. Honeymooners. Babymooners. So many people taking so many trips for so many important reasons that have the potential to get cancelled at the gate. Please share this article. Please get your friends and family to check their passports. And if you do have the opportunity, please paint this message on the side of a bus. 

Updates on my claim against Easyjet

After writing this post, I’ve continued my claim against Easyjet. I’ll keep this section updated with my progress.

I took a scattergun approach at first. I filled in the contact form and sent messages on Facebook and Twitter to the Easyjet accounts. Months later and still no reply to the contact form. Only Twitter replied and told me to fill in the contact form. Great. In the meantime, I discovered the dedicated form tucked away in Easyjet’s Terms & Conditions – by digging myself, not by any useful response from the airline.

I filled in the ‘denied boarding’ claim form and quickly came to realise it was more geared towards over-filled flights. As this wasn’t my case, I half expected to have my claim denied. It was, just a few days later.

At least I had a human to email at that point, which I thought might be useful. It was not. I explained the situation but they once again rejected my claim.

(for some reason I have become Jeremie)

Easyjet is claiming the regulations don’t apply because they only apply when customers are bumped off a too-full flight. There is a section for ‘denied boarding against will’ which I think applies, but if not, it’s most likely a pure breach of contractual terms, to board me when I had valid documentation. I’m happy to have a wrangle with them on the legalities if necessary.

But first I thought I’d try the ADR route they suggested. I had a bit of a pause before applying for ADR (pure fatigue with the topic plus I went to the USA and Mexico – not denied boarding!). When I came back in early December, I started the ADR process. It was pretty quick to apply (just a few initial documents like my flight details and passport). Here’s what’s happened so far.

At first, my claim was accepted by ADR.

Then I got a curious notification that Easyjet was objecting to my right to ADR, which was interesting since they suggested it.

I didn’t hear anything within 7 days but then today, 7 Jan 22, I have another curious reply from Easyjet – that I haven’t submitted my passport. This is simply not true. Of course, they saw it at the boarding gate as well as when I complained to them directly. I’ve also uploaded it to the ADR system. But, still, this is an easy one to reply to – I will send them a copy of my passport. Side note: Easyjet’s reply is in hideously legalistic language: “did not provide the necessary information to identify the matter object of the claim…adduce the requested evidence.” Come on, dudes. It’s 2022, not 1522 and ADR not the Supreme Court. You just need to ask for (another) copy of my passport. No need to try and intimidate me with legalese.

Whatever will they try next? I’ll keep you posted.

Update: January 2022: I’m at the stage of ADR where Easyjet have submitted their ‘defence’. It’s a very legalistic document (I know, I’ve seen a few in my lawyer days). Without directly admitting fault, they have agreed to refund my flight price under their terms and conditions. That means they’ve admitted they got it wrong and incorrectly denied me boarding, which is a breach of their terms and conditions.

In a sense, Easyjet is getting ahead, paying me the flight back before my complaint has formally completed ADR. I don’t know if this is a tactic, them hoping it might satisfy me.

It’s an interesting approach because they have refused to pay for my associated costs e.g. hotel, car parking etc. They say that these are indirect losses (legal speak) and therefore aren’t covered. Their Terms and Conditions say the same.

I have dispute this with them on the basis that if they denied me boarding, the hotel costs etc are directly related to their wrongful act and they therefore should be refunded. I’ve made the same point about my friend’s costs, which were also refused on the basis she wasn’t denied boarding – she could have got on the flight (‘if I was a dick’, to quote my friend!).

Under consumer protection law, any terms in Easyjet’s terms and conditions must be reasonable and paying back just my flight price is not, in my view, reasonable. In fact, had I been denied boarding under the Denied Boarding regulations, Easyject would have been responsible for my additional costs.

I’ve made these points to ADR. I do expect Easyjet to fight this quite fiercely as it could spell a huge wave of increased costs for them if their terms excluding hotel costs are considered unfair. But I will pursue it.

What next? Easyjet’s defence and my arguments have now gone to the ADR panel for consideration. They will then issue a decision. I’ll keep you posted.

Update February 2022 at the end of Feb I got a notification from ADR that they now have all the evidence from me and Easyjet. It will now go to adjudication which can take a whopping 90 days from today. I will await the outcome and report back when I receive it some time around the end of May/June 2022.

Update April 2022: I still haven’t heard back from ADR and don’t expect to for another couple of months but the comments keep rolling in from people who have had similar issues. Instead of trying to keep on top of the comments and replying to each of you, I’m trying to reach out to some solicitors’ firms who deal with claims against airlines on a no-win, no-fee basis. This seems like a new area of claims but it’s impacting a lot of people so I’m hoping someone will be interested and have the time, skills and team/resources to take this on for us all. I’ll let you know if I get any positive responses.

If you’ve got any questions or anything to add, let me know in the comments below. 

Related articles:

Sign up for my newsletter here.

12 Tips – What To Do If You’ve Missed Your Flight

Dynamic Pricing: Flight Pricing’s Biggest Scam?

What Does Travel Insurance Cover (and What’s Excluded)?

Are you ready to get robbed? 12 Holiday Safety Tips

38 thoughts on “Denied Boarding: Is Your Passport Still Valid After Brexit?”

  1. The plot thickens. Easyjet’s website now says:

    “For UK passport holders travelling to the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, please note that on your day of travel you’ll need your passport to both:
    1) Have at least 6 months left on it (the requirement of most European countries is to have a minimum of 3 months left on your passport on the day after your intended departure from the EU)
    2)GBR Passports must be no more than 10 years old on the date of travel”

    So it looks like they’re now adding *their own* requirement for 6 months validity at the point of leaving the UK in addition to the standard requirements you’ve mentioned of 3 months validity at point of leaving EU and passport less than 10 years old.

    Do you know if this 6 month requirement is in a similar vein to the government advice you mention that recommends 6 months (perhaps based on some assumption that you may be abroad for up to 3 months) or is it a hard requirement for all travellers? Can they even create random passport validity rules of their own above and beyond what the departure and destination countries require?

    I’m due to travel soon and would fall foul of the 6 months validity but not the standard EU requirements for 3 months validity at point of leaving the EU and passport less than 10 years old.

  2. happened to me yesterday (Stansted – Toulouse with RyanAir). I am FURIOUS and will not give up without a fight. Will let you know how I get on! (Passport issued 2 July 2012, expires 2 April 2023!)

  3. Hi, we are due to fly to Mainland Spain on Monday 4th April with, my daughters 5 year passport expires on 2nd October 2022 however her issue date was 2nd May 2017, I have only read from and the government website that the requirement are the passport should not be over 10years old from the issue date (which it isn’t due to it been a 5 year passport) and there should be at least 3months remaining on the expiry date from the date of departure from Spain (which it has 5months)
    I have however had conflicting information from various sources saying that her passport will be invalid however nowhere does it state that a five year child passport has the same restrictions. Has anyone else experienced an issue with a child’s passport that you have spoken too, we are desperate to get over and see my parents who reside in Spain that we haven’t seen for nearly 2 years due to covid restrictions so would be grateful for any help and advise to put our minds at rest thank you so much 😊

  4. The same happened to me in September with Ryanair.

    Passport issue date – 28 Sept 2011
    Passport expiry date – 28 May 2022

    Travel out date – 22nd September 2021
    Travel back date – 27th September 2021

    I was naively unaware of the new rules so when at check in they told me my passport had expired and explained why I believed what they were telling me.

    We were going to stay with family and didnt want to upset the children after the last year and half they had already had so my husband took the kids and I went home. Once home I did a lot of researching and came across a lot of information that supported my passport was in fact valid. I rang Ryanair and got absolutely know where with my claims. I then spoke to Jet2 who confirmed I could fly, so the next day I flew out with Jet2 and joined my family.

    Video from Jet2 on how to check passport validity –

    I came back and logged a complaint with Ryanair, chased numerous of time but got no reply. I then went to aviation ADR and again Ryanair failed to respond. I have now had a determination from Aviation ADR and they favoured with Ryanair. However it states the reasoning is because of the information provided on the website that states in writing:

    less than 10 years old on the day you enter (check the ‘date of issue’)

    valid for at least 3 months after the day you plan to leave (check the ‘expiry date”)

    My passport meets both these so the decision makes no sense but the case is closed and I can no longer speak to the Aviation ADR regarding this case. My only option is to take this to court.

    I will be following this to see what your outcome is with the Aviation ADR.

  5. Hi. We have the same issue pending. We fly on Friday 18th March 2022 for 2”4 nights. The passport issue date is 19th April 2012. Expiry date is 19th Jan 2022.

    We fly with Ryan Air. Is there a way we can avoid a conflict? Can I insist on boarding give the passport is valid and I have paid for the tickets.

    We have applied for a fast track passport but have had to apply in my partners marries name. There were no fast track appointments available for a name change. Can you a passport be renewed using married name. Flights were booked in the married name. Driving licence and bank details are now in maiden name.

    Thanks in advance for any help or advice. Chris

  6. Hi Jo, thanks for your article.
    I’m also in a similar position. This morning (14/02/22) I was refused boarding on to a Ryanair flight to Spain.
    Passport Issue date 23/04/12, Expiry date 23/09/22. Boarding was refused as staff claimed my passport had insufficient time before expiry.
    I have raised a complaint with Ryanair but very early days and still to receive any reply.
    I would be most interested to learn how you get on with your claim with AviationADR. Please do keep me posted.
    Cheers, Andy

  7. Hi, thanks very much for posting this, it’s very helpful.
    I have booked flights for this weekend, and have more than three months left up to the expiry date on my passport, but do not have three months up to the issue date.
    Two different people at Jet2 customer services told me that it was 100% certain that I would be refused boarding, because they were now going by the issue date in terms of validity, not the original expiry date, and any ‘extra months’ that were issued when the passport was renewed previously no longer counted. It even states this on the Jet2 website, where it says: “For example, a passport with an issue date of 1 January 2012 and an expiry date of 31 October 2022 isn’t valid for beyond 1 January 2022, ten years from its original issue.”
    That is wrong. But it was only when I spoke to a third customer service person, and managed to get through to someone at the airport ticket desk, that they said I was fine to travel, as they were going by the original expiry date, not the issue date. But how many people will be given false information and cancel their holiday as a result? (And for a reason that will invalidate any insurance claim).
    The whole system is a shambles. The Government website is totally unclear – “may need to be”, “could affect” etc. – and when I called HMPO for clarification they just kept referring me back to the Govt website, even though they admitted there “isn’t a great deal of clarity” there. The Government needs to pull its finger out on this – but also airlines need to stop misinterpreting the rules and giving customers false information.

  8. Thank you for all this info!! More real
    Information given than a single member of easyJet or DHL or indeed the passport office in Victoria itself where easyJet told me to go!
    Like Tony I was refused board in far on 30 Jan 2022 my date of issue was 19 feb 2012 but passport expiry Nov 2022.
    The jobsworth Holly who denied us boarding was “unsure” of the guidelines. No one in the airport had a clue!
    They told us to rebook and visit passport house the next morning which we did.
    I have never felt so foreign and made to feel like a criminal in my own country.
    The whole debacle was most upsetting and indeed highly stressful.
    I have had numerous responses from easyJet all with conflicting info and they don’t even make sense and they always arrive at 4am!
    Thank you for your help in the expenses form and if this fails I will indeed take it further.
    I have also emailed the home office regarding the wording of their guidelines on the govt website.
    EasyJet should not take bookings on passports THEY consider invalid.
    My passport was checked three times in the airport also.
    Good luck all

  9. This is really useful – it happened to me today with ryanair – my passport was issued in march 2012, but expires in September 2022. I was refused at the gate and my gf had to travel by herself to get to our friends 30th. I’m now sat back at home furiously trying to work out how to get to malta. Do we know if any other airlines in addition to TUI have changed their policy to align with the EU policy? theres a flight tomorrow to heathrow with airmalta, but don’t know how they interpret the policy.

    • Hi George, I wish I could give you a confident and positive response but my experience is that even people at the airline head offices don’t know what the hell is going on so the chance of finding an airline with corresponding ground staff who will 100% let you board is unlikely. The best I can suggest is emailing the airline and getting it in writing that your passport is valid, then taking this to the gate with you. It’s still a risk but might be worth a try if you can afford to potentially miss another flight? Good luck and so sorry you’ve been turned away over what is an absolute mess by the UK government and airlines.

  10. Thanks so much for the great article and information. My son is hoping to travel to Austria in Feb 2022 and has just over 3 months validity on his passport from the date he will exit the country however I am so worried that easy jet will refuse him entry. As you rightly point out I don’t understand why easy jet are not obligated to uphold the requirements of the country rather than adding there own rules. My sons passport will be valid but let’s see if we encounter a problem. I will follow your advice in the article and see what happens – I have also since read that Jet2 have apologised to a couple who were refused boarding over passport validity and they have now changed their requirements in line with the country of travel. Why do easy jet not have to do the same – I wish we hadn’t booked with them now but too late. Also if I knew beforehand I would have booked a day passport slot as I don’t want any issues or him to be refused but they do not offer as an option for 15yr olds so I am thwarted at every turn so frustrating especially as I know the passport is valid and it shouldn’t be up to easy jet to change or impose different conditions- thanks so much for your article and I wish you success with your claim against them and hope it goes well.

    Best wishes

    • Hi Lesley, it is beyond frustrating and I’m sorry you’re having this stress. I don’t believe the airlines should have the right to decide on passport requirements that are more strict than is required by the destination. I think they’re doing it in some misguided attempt to cover their backs, but it’s just causing more confusion, heartache and cost. My legal view is that if Easyjet and others are adding more stringent requirements than the destinations required, this should be printed in big shouting letters before you book so you can check your passport and shop elsewhere. Keep us all posted on how you get on.

      • Update -I can’t quite believe it but he is successfully aboard and off to Austria with his cousins 😁he will hopefully have an amazing time and that time agonising and stressing of which was the best way forward will be forgotten – thankyou so much for your kind advice and informative article We now know so much more about the pitfalls of conflicting advice from different airlines and are now also aware that our own adult passports will fall foul of the 10 yr rule – but thanks to you at least I’m am now aware and didn’t find out at the time of boarding which must have been awful- this needs to stop and the gov needs to pass clear legislation on limiting all airlines to only require the same validity as the country of travel – I would support collective action for change instead of the confusion currently exists It is already expensive and stressful enough for travellers with all the additional covid/ brexit requirements. Best wishes we couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome and fingers crossed you are fully successful with your claim. Kind regards


    • Please let me know what happens with your son.
      We very recently used EasyJet to fly to Spain and easyjet ground staff informed my husband that he will need to renew his passport before travelling again as he has only just over six months unexpired (to the end of 10 years from issue) so ground staff is still not familiar with the correct rules.
      We’re due to fly to Austria next month.

  11. Thank you for this article I’m so glad I’m not alone! I was refused boarding at Manchester airport in November for my holiday to Athens. On Simon Calder’s advice I’ve filed a cash claim online. So far, I’ve been notified by a paralegal at Easjet that they will be submitting a defence. I’ll keenly follow how you get on and I will keep you posted on how I get on.

    • Hi Linda, do keep us posted. I’ll be fascinated if they issue a defence that is different to the one I’ve received where they agreed to refund me under their terms and conditions. We should all compare notes. I see a class action somewhere in the airline’s future – this is impacting too many people!

  12. Only Yesterday 30/01/22 I was ‘Denied Boarding’ at Gatwick due to an expired passport
    I was travelling to Faro for a break with friends.
    My Passport was renewed on 08/02/12 with a stated Expiry date of 08/07/2022.
    Their argument was the same that my Passport expired on 08/02/2022 .
    Nothing could pursued them that they were wrong and that I had just over 5 months left (which for Portugal is Fine).
    It transpires the Easy Jet have subbed out all their ground staff to DHL on their whole attitude was one of ignorance, intolerance, disinterest and downright rudeness.
    I shall be following up useing the very useful information you have given.

  13. Hi Jo, we’re still attempting to wrangle with Aviation ADR about this, on behalf of my parents, but check out the latest wording on the easyJet website, which would suggest they’ve now reversed their position and separated out the two clauses.

    now says:
    For UK passport holders travelling to the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, please note that on your day of travel you’ll need your passport to both:

    Have at least 6 months left on it (the requirement of most European countries is to have a minimum of 3 months left on your passport on the day after your intended departure from the EU)GBR Passports must be no more than 10 years old on the date of travel

    Following your progress with interest!

  14. Do goad I found this it happened to me last September. I tried to contact EasyJet with no success so I did the online contact form it’s took 3 months for them to get back to me and say to fill in the online form which I did see but it looked like that was only to claim for flights and mine was a holiday. They emailed me finally said if I fill the form in if they are in the wrong the will compensate my holiday. Fingers crossed

  15. Thank you for sharing this, it brings a little relief to know I’m not the only one it’s happened too however still makes me extremely sad and angry.
    I had the same issue in November 21 where I was denied flying with Ryanair because my passport had 5.5 months left.
    After numerous chasing, I’m finally getting a response but they are claiming they will not refund.

    Have you had a response through EasyJet yet?
    What are the next steps if the airline are adamant they will not pay out?
    Many Thanks!

    • Hi Amie, I feel your frustration. I got the same flat refusal from Easyjet but they did suggest I go to ADR which I am now doing. I’ve just updated my article and will keep it updated with my progress. Definitely worth looking into ADR. As Ryanair for a link to their ADR scheme.

  16. Jo – I had a similar experience to all of those described above only yesterday at Gatwick for a flight to Palma to wish my 22 year old daughter a safe trip ahead of crossing the Atlantic Ocean on a yacht. My wife and I were also taking her Christmas and Birthday presents. We booked flights going out at 11am and returning at 11am from Palma the following day. We have a 2 year old son and were only able to arrange child care for that time – making this trip all the more special for us.
    My circumstances were the 10 year anniversary of my passport was issued in October 2011 and expiry was June 2022. I was not aware of the new 10 ruling.
    Ahead of travel – along with all Easyjet passengers I inputted my passport details on line, including the asked for Expiry date. I believe this is where Easyjet are making a mistake. The Airline knew I was travelling to Majorca and knew my passport was not acceptable for travel. Surely the airline has an obligation to flag this at the time of booking – or even better not accept my booking or money!
    I did manage to get through to Easyjet management and explain my predicament and suggested they look to amend their systems to ensure that this avoidable, costly, upsetting and unnecessary error were stopped. I received no reply and they refused any form of refund.
    I think I will look to my Travel insurance policy to see what costs can be recouped rather than get upset and frustrated trying to challenge the faceless, aggressive and uncaring airline that Easyjet is.
    Sadly we have no further opportunity to see my daughter as she is shortly departing for the Caribbean.

    • Hi Fin, I am so sorry this happened to you in these circumstances. How devastating! I’d be interested to hear what your travel insurance have to say on the matter. It’s a route I’ll also consider (if I’ve not left it too late).

  17. Thank you for such a clear and helpful article. My wife and I had the same experience on Wednesday at Bristol Airport expecting to fly to Madeira. My wife’s passport has an expiry date of 16th July 2020 (renewed December 2011) – We got through bag drop and were turned back at the departure gate!
    Your account makes me more determined to pursue the case, rather than my traditional habit of being very cross at the injustice but then getting fed up with appealing the case!
    Two queries have come to mind:
    1. The story that ‘If we allow you to board you will be turned around in Funchal and both the Airline and yourselves will face a heavy fine’ – Is this correct?
    2. I wonder how we have been logged on the Easyjet records? – I am guessing that we are ‘no shows’ as we had subsequently had two emails from the Airline. The first thanking us for traveling with them! The second one offering to provide a receipt in order that we can make a claim from our travel insurance!

    • Hi Ray, I’m sorry your trip to Madeira was ruined. But I’m glad you’re going to pursue it! I presume it’s a typo and your wife’s passport expires in 2022 not 2020? As for your questions, 1) I do believe this is true. It will be in a contract between the airline and, presumably, all international countries. However, this doesn’t remove the airline’s contractual obligation to its passengers to allow them to board if they have a valid passport.

      2) Easyjet made a note in their system but, like you, I’m not sure of the details. They told me they would log that I couldn’t fly due to an invalid passport. Which might be what’s causing me difficulties claiming against Easyjet. I may make an application under data protection to have a copy of my record. I’m also considering seeing what my travel insurance says. Keep me posted as to how you get on! And I’ll update this post as my own claim continues!

      • Thanks Jo. Yes my typo quoted 2020 when it should have been 2022. We are following your guidance and hopefully there will be an acceptance of the fault.

  18. Thanks so much for this post. My parents were denied boarding by easyJet yesterday at Bristol flying to Madeira for this reason and were left distraught, we’re going to start following your advice now. Have you heard anything back from easyJet?

    • Hi Mike, I’m sorry that happened to your parents. I know exactly how they feel! I’ve had two flat out rejections from Easyjet on the basis the plane took off. Leaves me thinking the customer service staff don’t understand the issue. They’ve given me an ombudsman contact link so that will be my next step! I’ll keep the post updated so bookmark it!

      • Thanks Jo, fingers crossed someone can get through to them! I don’t know if it’s any use but there’s an Internet Archive site that keeps historical records of pages, it looks like following the Simon Calder piece the easyJet travel documents page was changed to read “where a GBR passport has an extended expiry date over 10 years this can be counted as part of the 3 months required”, but shortly afterwards it changed again to read “Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the minimum period needed”:

        May 8th 2021:

        “Your passport needs to be in good condition and signed. Some countries require that passports are valid for a minimum period beyond your trip, usually three or six months. In the event of a no-deal Brexit passport requirements will change.

        If you’re a UK passenger looking for guidance about travelling following the UK’s exit from the EU, you’ll find more information on the UK Government website.”

        August 31st 2021:

        “For UK passport holders travelling to the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, please note that on your day of travel you’ll need your passport to both:

        have at least 6 months left on it
        be less than 10 years old (even if it has 6 months or more left on it)”

        October 16th 2021:

        “For UK passport holders travelling to the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, please note that on your day of travel you’ll need your passport to both:

        have at least 6 months left on it (the requirement of most European countries is to have a minimum of 3 months left on your passport on the day after your intended departure from the EU)
        be less than 10 years old (where a GBR passport has an extended expiry date over 10 years this can be counted as part of the 3 months required from your intended departure from the EU)”

        October 23rd 2021:

        “For UK passport holders travelling to the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, please note that on your day of travel you’ll need your passport to both:

        Have at least 6 months left on it (the requirement of most European countries is to have a minimum of 3 months left on your passport on the day after your intended departure from the EU)
        Have a passport that’s less than 10 years old (Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the minimum period needed) “

  19. This is really helpful – yesterday EasyJet denied my elderly in laws boarding for Portugal for the exact same reason – my father in laws passport was less than 10
    Years old but they conflated the 3 month point. Did you successfully claim in the end? They keep relying on the Government guidance?

    • I’m so sorry your in-laws had that experience. I’m sure they’re now sat at home thinking they got it wrong while checking the weather in Portugal. I can’t believe this is all so unclear and so badly communicated. Someone else contacted me yesterday and had had the same experience. I only filled in my Easyjet form yesterday so I don’t expect to hear back for a while but I can let you know when I do and what they say. Out of interest, which airport was it? Tell your in-laws they’re not alone. Won’t help them be in Portugal but I’m here to help if I can!


Leave a Comment