British passport holders visiting EU countries could face new restrictions – including the possibility of being denied entry – if no Brexit deal is reached.
The UK government said that if there is no deal with the EU then British passport holders will be treated as a “third country national” under the Schengen Border Code from 30 March 2019.
This means they will be subject to the rules governing third countries, such as the US and Australia, which require that passports must be issued within the last 10 years on the date of arrival in a Schengen country and have at least six months of validity on the passport when they enter.
“If you plan to travel to the Schengen area after 29 March 2019, to avoid any possibility of your adult British passport not complying with the Schengen Border Code we suggest that you check the issue date and make sure your passport is no older than nine years and six months on the day of travel,” said the Home Office in a statement.
“For example, if you’re planning to travel to the Schengen area on 30 March 2019, your passport should have an issue date on or after 1 October 2009.
“If your passport does not meet these criteria, you may be denied entry to any of the Schengen area countries, and you should renew your passport before you travel.”
The Schengen area includes 26 countries: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
Travel to Ireland will not be affected by Brexit as this is covered by a separate Common Travel Area arrangement, which will continue after the UK leaves the EU.
Four other EU countries – Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Cyprus – are also outside the Schengen area.
“For countries that are in the EU but not in the Schengen area, you’ll need to check the entry requirements for the country you’re travelling to before you travel,” added the Home Office.
The Home Office said that new blue UK passports would start being issued from late 2019. Passports issued immediately after 29 March will continue to be burgundy but will not include the words 'European Union' on the front cover.