I am a British citizen, and my passport is due to expire in March 2019.

This is about the time I should look to renew it (at a current cost of £75.50), but I've read/heard that when we leave the EU, also destined for March 2019, this will result in passports needing to be replaced with non-EU ones.

Has any advice been published on when/at what cost this replacement will happen?

Some scenarios I've thought about;

  1. If I renew now, the new one will stay valid until its expiration; new "British" passports would be issued only as existing "EU" passports expire.
  2. I renew now, and in 5 months get issued a new "British" passport, without extra charge.
  3. I renew now, and in 5 months my "EU" passport dies, and I have to pay for the new "UK" passport.
  4. I don't renew now, and wait for the new "UK" passports to be announced and get one then.

I don't expect the government will have anywhere near the resources in place to handle the millions of new passports required. Are there contingencies in place?

I appreciate there probably isn't an answer to this at the time of asking (as far as I can tell, there are no answers to any of the Brexit problems yet), but perhaps something will become clear in time....

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    "I've read/heard that when we leave the EU, also destined for March 2019 this will result in passports needing to be replaced with non-EU ones" Where did you hear this? Please provide sources. I for one heard the opposite from a BBC News article on the subject. Though arguably nobody really knows for sure yet. – Lightness Races in Orbit Oct 10 at 13:32
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit - check your preferred news outlet/google it. One of the brilliant ideas as part of "reclaiming sovereignty" was to have blue, British passports. In true irony, the contract has been given to a Franco-Dutch firm because they are cheaper. bbc.co.uk/news/business-43807190, dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5533937/…, gov.uk/government/news/blue-uk-passport-to-return-after-eu-exit – ErosRising Oct 10 at 15:00
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    @ErosRising I'm aware of that. That has nothing to do with auto-expiring existing documents, regarding which my preferred news outlet said the contrary. – Lightness Races in Orbit Oct 10 at 15:30
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    "I don't expect the government will have anywhere near the resources in place to handle the millions of new passports required": this is yet another point in support of the only reasonable conclusion, which is that existing passports will continue to be valid until they expire. – phoog Oct 10 at 17:04

The answer is almost certainly #1: it's extraordinarily unlikely that existing British passports would be completely invalidated by Brexit. A British passport states that you're a British citizen, which will continue to be the case even if Britain leaves the EU.

While I can't point to any official sources, I can note that a) passports of European countries issued before they joined the EU remained valid even without the EU designation, and b) passports of countries that ceased to exist, such as the Soviet Union, still remained valid afterwards. (It took Russia six years after the dissolution of the USSR to even start issuing Russian passports!)

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    This is the only thing that makes sense. When the UK leaves the EU, its citizens will no longer be part of the EU either, no matter what's stamped on the front cover of existing passports. – Mike Harris Oct 10 at 11:18
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    +1 This is simply logical. – Honorary World Citizen Oct 10 at 11:32
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    @MikeHarris, it may turn out to be more complicated than that if the Amsterdam case is revived. – Peter Taylor Oct 10 at 11:48
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    @PeterTaylor: I don't think so. The Amsterdam case revolves around the notion of EU citizenship. Citizenship and passport possession are not that directly linked. In particular, EU citizenship is not at all linked to EU-stylized passports. – MSalters Oct 10 at 12:35
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    @user can you point to any credible source that supports your suspicion? It doesn't make any sense unless things get extremely ugly, and even then the EU cannot invalidate British passports that mention the EU; it could only refuse to accept them. For such passports to be invalidated in other countries, the EU would have to convince them also not to accept them. I don't imagine that things would get that ugly; it wouldn't be in the EU's interests. – phoog Oct 10 at 17:02

In your comment, you linked to an official source that (rather understatedly) answers your question:

To save the taxpayer money, the newly designed passports will be introduced in a phased approach.

After the UK leaves the EU, burgundy passports will continue to be issued but with no reference to the European Union.

New blue and gold passports will be issued from October 2019, when the new passport contract begins, to those renewing or applying for a new passport.

There is no need for British passport holders to do anything ahead of their current passport renewal date.

(Emphasis added.)

Of course, the first paragraph is somewhat disingenuous:

After Brexit, the UK travel document will no longer be required to conform to EU standards. So in a move to symbolise our national identity, the cover will be changing from the standard EU burgundy colour to a blue and gold design.

This implies falsely that the burgundy cover was required by EU standards; in fact, it is just a suggestion, and the UK could have gone back to a previous passport color, or indeed any passport color, without leaving the EU, just as Croatia has retained blue passports after joining it.

The implications for your question:

I've read/heard that when we leave the EU, also destined for March 2019, this will result in passports needing to be replaced with non-EU ones.

That is incorrect. Existing passports will remain valid until they expire.

Has any advice been published on when/at what cost this replacement will happen?

No, because there will be no such required replacement. People who want to pay the fee to renew their passports early will presumably be able to do that.

Some scenarios I've thought about; 1. If I renew now, the new one will stay valid until its expiration; new "British" passports would be issued only as existing "EU" passports expire.

This is what will happen.

  1. I renew now, and in 5 months get issued a new "British" passport, without extra charge.

That is wishful thinking, but fortunately it won't be necessary to get a new passport.

  1. I renew now, and in 5 months my "EU" passport dies, and I have to pay for the new "UK" passport.

No. The EU doesn't issue passports. An "EU passport" is a national passport issued to an EU citizen by an EU member state. When the UK ceases to be an EU member state, UK passports issued to British citizens will cease to be EU passports, notwithstanding any references they may contain to the European Union. But they will continue to be UK passports, and valid.

  1. I don't renew now, and wait for the new "UK" passports to be announced and get one then.

They've already been announced, as noted above, but you can certainly wait until October 2019 before getting your new passport, if your travel plans allow. In determining whether your travel plans allow, don't forget that some countries require extra validity beyond the end of your visit.

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    The UK could not have "gone back to blue passports" because it never had them. They used to be black. – Peter Taylor Oct 11 at 7:06
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    @PeterTaylor - have a read of this Home Office blog. An extract: Since its introduction in 1921, there have been a few variants of that navy blue colour but it has never been black, as some commentators have suggested. It's a common misconception that British passports were ever black - occasionally they were very dark blue, but never black. – Spratty Oct 11 at 13:39
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    Well, they were so dark in colour as to be indistinguishable from black to many people. The one I have at the back of a drawer somewhere certainly is. – nekomatic Oct 11 at 14:28
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    Oh god, it's that dress all over again... – David Richerby Oct 11 at 15:51
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    @PeterTaylor is it better now? – phoog Oct 11 at 16:02

If you don't need it soon, leave it until it's about to expire. This is because the government have recently changed the rules and no longer add the additional time to the expiry - so if you applied now (October 2018), your new passport will expire in October 2028, not March 2029 as it would have under the old rules.

They've done this because the Schengen rules require passports from third countries to have been issued within the last 10 years, and if you've got a passport valid for 10 years and 9 months (as was possible under the old system), you'd not be able to use it to visit Schengen for the last 9 months.

See this gov.uk page for more details:

Since 2001, some adult British passports were issued with a validity longer than 10 years. This is because if you renewed your passport before it expired you were allowed to have the time left on your old passport added to your new passport. The maximum validity period possible was 10 years and 9 months. This means you can’t use the expiry date to check if your adult passport will be valid under the new rules.

From the beginning of September 2018 extra validity is no longer added to passports and the maximum validity for a new adult UK passport will be 10 years, and for a child passport will be 5 years. We have made this change to follow recommendations set out by the International Civil Aviation Organisation and to help provide clarity about passport validity in the Schengen area in the future.

What's more of an issue is the possibilty of needing some number of months' validity for visits to Europe in the future (unlike now). Many countries require 6 months from date of entry, or something similar. This applies in particular to the EU (gov.uk). This doesn't affect you directly as your passport runs out almost exactly on brexit day. the rule does mean that a surge in passport applications can be expected, starting imminently. This is likely to mean increased lead times around the time you need to renew yours.

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    While this is true, it does not answer the question. The actual requirement in the Schengen area (and the rest of the EU, I believe, except perhaps Ireland) is that passports be valid at least three months beyond the anticipated date of departure. Since an arriving visitor may stay no longer than 90 days at once, and sometimes less, this is often incorrectly stated as requiring six months of validity beyond the date of arrival. – phoog Oct 10 at 17:06
  • @phoog between my "something like" and the "should have 6 months" the UK government say, I think its close enough. After all, I lead with "some number" But the more important part of the answer is the increased lead time which we can expect. For obvious reasons official sources are thin on the ground for that – Chris H Oct 10 at 18:07
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    Yes, my comment was somewhat unclear. The first sentence isn't particularly related to the rest of the comment, which was just trying to add some precision to the information you presented in support of your point. The first sentence is just saying that the answer doesn't address the question of whether pre-Brexit passports will be valid after Brexit. I do agree that it is significant that processing times may increase, and that this partly addresses the question, so I have upvoted the answer. – phoog Oct 10 at 18:30

I renewed my British passport just a few weeks ago using the online service. A few days later, my new burgundy passport arrived with an expiry date in Sept 2028. I have no doubt that it will remain valid for all travel even after 29 March 2019.

The only change that I am aware of, is sometime after Brexit the UK passport office intends to start issuing passports with a blue cover instead of the current burgundy colour.

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    Surely the inside of the passport will change as well as the cover, since all the EU-specific stuff will be removed. – phoog Oct 10 at 17:09
  • References to "European Union" on the cover and page 1 will surely go, but all the other translated material may well remain as useful. It will be interesting to see exactly what is removed. – Andrew Leach Oct 10 at 23:19
  • @AndrewLeach my passport doesnt say European Union on it... All the graphics on the front cover of mine have worn off! – BritishSam Oct 11 at 13:41
  • There isn't anything on the inside which is EU-specific. You might be thinking of the ICAO specifications, which cover things like the translations of labels, machine readable segment, biometrics etc. – jacksonj04 Oct 12 at 14:43

Most of the answers here consider this topic from an entirely UK-centric view. For its main use, it is relatively irrelevant whether British authorities consider a UK passport with "European Union" on the cover valid or not.

Where you need a passport is entry and exit to another country. It is very unlikely, but you could easily argue EU countries would consider the "European Union" cover as untrue and thus deny passport validity (There have been lots of similar examples in the past). How this will be handled in future is not a simple UK decision, but rather would be one small part of the EU/UK series of treaties that need to be sorted out between the UK and the EU.

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    There have been lots of similar examples in the past - can you link to any of these? – nekomatic Oct 11 at 14:29
  • @nekomatic Most recent in Europe maybe Greece not accepting passports of the former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia until recently (A special procedure will apply at the border with Greece. The Greek authorities will not put entry or exit stamps in passports issued by the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Instead, the Greek authorities will proceed by stamping a separate sheet that will be given to the traveller. (From an EU information sheet of 2009) – tofro Oct 11 at 14:37
  • Other example: A Northern Cypriot Passport will allow you entry into only 5 countries (Turkey, USA and Pakistan amongst them) and nowhere else. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Cypriot_passport – tofro Oct 11 at 14:42
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    In the Macedonia case that was in protest at the use of the disputed name 'Macedonia', I assume? OK, fair point, but I think it's extremely unlikely to be replicated in the case of the UK - if Brexit goes ahead, nobody is likely to think that the UK is wrongly laying claim to being an EU member because they haven't cancelled pre-Brexit passports. In the Northern Cyprus case this is because most countries don't actually recognise Northern Cyprus. – nekomatic Oct 11 at 14:46
  • @nekomatic Yes, the Macedonia example is maybe the better one - Greece was forced to accept the passport by EU regulations, but didn't like the name on it, so told their administration "don't stamp that thing". My point is not so much the likeliness or non-likeliness of such denials, but rather that it's not the UK administration alone who decides passport validity. EU could very well state "you had two years..." - And I did mention "very unlikely" for a purpose. – tofro Oct 11 at 14:57

Current passports will stay valid for ten years after they are issued. The only difference: With current rules, if your passport expired March 2019 and you renewed in January 2019, you received a passport valid to March 2029. Now it will only be valid for ten years, that is January 2029.

What you need to decide is whether you want an old passport for the next ten years, or if you want to stand out in every passport queue as a Little Englander with then "new" (1970's style) blue passport. If you want to get the old passport, renew before March 2019. If you want the new passport, renew after March 2019. This may mean that you are without a passport for a short time, or if you have a brand-new old style passport and want a new-style one then you'd have to pay.

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