My Greek passport is about to expire in about a month. I had started a process for the renewal but the application got rejected due to a typo an employee (bureaucratic process).

This December, I am flying from the UK where I live to Greece and the return flight is in January 2020. In total, I am going to be in Greece for a week.

Can I fly with my expired passport? I know I can travel to Greece but how will I be able to fly back and enter the UK? From what I know, all EU citizens must show a valid national identity card or passport when entering and leaving the UK. But if I cannot produce such a document, the authorities must give me every chance to get one within a reasonable time limit or produce other satisfactory evidence of your identity and citizenship.

PS: My Greek ID is in a bad condition and will not be accepted. My Greek passport will expire in November and it is 5years old. I have an EU driving license and work in the UK. Note, it is not my fault and I should deserve a compensation as I am gonna miss the flight and have to pay extra 90 pounds for the renewal (new process).

  • 1
    Can you renew either passport or ID card while in Greece?
    – Willeke
    Commented Oct 20, 2019 at 11:44
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    Couldn't you just go to the Greek embassy in London and renew your passport there?
    – Didier L
    Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 0:00
  • 1
    Is an emergency passport an option? Figure out who's going to pay for it after the fact, but get your documents in order first.
    – Mast
    Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 7:00
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    "Note, it is not my fault" What exactly, that you ID is worn out or that your passport hasn't been renewed early enough?
    – glglgl
    Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 8:57
  • 3
    Whose fault is it that your expired passport is in poor condition?
    – chepner
    Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 15:12

7 Answers 7


It has happened to me in the past, so it is not a big issue. Here is what you should do:

  1. Initiate the process for a new passport via the embassy now, 2 months is more than enough for a new passport

  2. According to the Greek embassy you can travel back with an expired passport, but you need to talk to IATA. If you do not have your passport then they can issue you an "Emergency travel document" to travel to Greece. The document will have your details and also it will state the flight and the date you are travelling, so you cannot use it for any other purpose other than flying to Greece. Read more information below:


  1. Once in Greece you can get a new ID card within 1-2 days and even a new passport within 5 days.



See the answer by @Chris Melville, he is in the business and knows what he talks about.

You still have two months before Christmas, best to initiate the passport or ID card replacement right now, with a request for fast service as the earlier try was not handled as it should be.

If you can not get your passport or ID card replaced in time while not in Greece, you may want to make sure your stay in Greece will be long enough to handle it.
Leaving the UK is not a problem as long as your paperwork allows you to enter Greece and the airline can look up in the database that your actual paperwork is acceptable.

Most countries have a fast (one day often) service for emergencies and for people who need and are willing to pay for their passports in a short time.
As I do not read the language I have not done a search for that service, you can look online.

If neither option are working for you, you may have to forgo your travel to Greece or lengthen your stay in Greece so you can get your passport sorted before returning to the UK.
The UK has no reason to let you in if you can not show the right paperwork and airlines know that and will not transport you to the UK unless you have shown an acceptable ID, which in your case is only a passport or a Greece ID card.

While you blame (likely rightly) the passport office, getting them to pay for the mistake is completely separate from traveling. And it is very likely they will not pay for any of the cost you have to make.

  • 1
    Some countries issue short term passports (1 year) that can be issued directly. This situation may justify such an issuing due to the time constraints. Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 3:57

"My Greek ID is in a bad condition and will not be accepted"

How bad? Do not assume that it won't be accepted. Even if it's a bit tatty, as long as your photograph still identifies you - and contains no signs of tampering or fraud - then it will be accepted.

Possibly the MRZ (Machine-Readable Zone) won't work if the card is too spoiled. But this isn't a problem. An Immigration Officer is obliged to examine the document when you produce it to them.

I used to work as a UK Immigration Officer myself, and saw thousands of poor-quality ID cards from many countries. Cards which had been stored in someone's back pocket, dirty and dog-eared. Even cards which had been through the wash! However as long as the photograph still identifies you, and the security features are present, then the card may still be used. If you're really concerned about the condition of your ID card, you can also present the card in conjunction with your expired passport. Therefore even if the passport itself has expired, it will still establish your Identity and Nationality. These are the two criteria against which admission is measured by the immigration authorities.

  • 1
    Greek IDs are just paper cards with a plastic cover. They are not biometric. Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 15:45
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    Yup. And Italian ID cards are even worse (just paper, with no plastic cover). This advice is for general EEA ID cards, some of which will have an MRZ: the point being that you can always present your ID card to an officer :) Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 9:42

If I were you, I would change my flight. How much? Ask the authorities how long they expect it to take.

My Hellenic mother had a similar experience with an employee touching her photograph, and guess what, nothing practical she could do about it. I don't know if there is an elaborate and hairy process of chasing this, but it's probably not worth the effort, time and money, if any. Explain to your employer the situation.

You learnt it the hard way, but please make sure to renew your passport in time next time, typically 6-9 months before its expiry date.

  • Low cost airlines will not allow you change the flights I am afraid. Wizzair and Ryanair. Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 15:46
  • 1
    Ah my bad, didn't think of that @ApoloRadomer. Good luck God of the Sun and Oracles. :)
    – gsamaras
    Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 15:52
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    You are welcome. Enjoy Cali. I might immigrate there in the tech industry. But let's get the passport first :P Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 15:57

I would like to respectfully suggest that you change your approach.

You write:

the authorities must give me every chance to get one within a reasonable time limit or produce other satisfactory evidence of your identity and citizenship...

Later, you say:

...it is not my fault and I should deserve a compensation as I am gonna miss the flight and have to pay extra 90 pounds for the renewal (new process).

The first misstates your experience, and the second is incorrect.

First, airlines are required to return to the departure point at the airline's expense (although the airline may try to collect the fare from the passenger) every passenger who is refused entry at a destination or transit point. Thus, airlines are extremely careful to check every passenger's documentation; airlines use the Timatic database for this purpose. Because there are an almost infinite number of combinations of factors (which countries, what kind of entry or transit, passenger citizenship, passenger residency, visas held, age, etc.), reference to a standard database makes sense.

If the airline thinks you won't be admitted at your transit point or destination, you will not be allowed to board the flight. You can see your own document requirements by entering your data into a Timatic portal; here's one, there are others as well. Put your data into Timatic: you'll see that with your current documents you can fly from the UK to Greece, but you'll be barred from flying back to the UK.

The airline will rely its Terms & Conditions of Carriage, to which a ticket holder (whether a purchaser or only a user) is deemed to agree by presenting themselves as a passenger. Without exception, these T&Cs provide that it is the passenger's sole responsibility to have the correct travel documents to make the flight. This is not the airline's job, it is yours.

Second, the government (whether of Greece or the UK) has no duty to keep track of what documents you hold, what kind of condition those documents are in, or when they expire. This is, again, your job alone.

Here, you didn't pay attention and left passport renewal and Greece national ID replacement until very late in the game. While the time required was increased because of a error by the Greek bureaucracy, in the real world...things happen. It would be delightful if the Greek bureaucracy responded by accelerating your Passport renewal, but bureaucracies are not known for timely and moral responses. A more prudent traveler would have presented the application earlier, in case an unexpected issue arose.

You can complain and whine about how poorly you've been treated, but it won't resolve your issue of insufficient documentation to re-enter the UK, and it will certainly not help you grow into a more capable traveler.

An effective reaction, on the other hand, would be to follow the good advice given by @Willeke and @gsamaras and @Chris Melville in their Answers. Reframing your experience as "I screwed up this time, but I'll pay more attention in the future so this won't happen again" would be a much more productive strategy.

  • 2
    The first quotation is correct. It's taken nearly verbatim from the EU free movement directive 2004/38/EC or perhaps from the Immigration (EEA) Regulations 2016. It won't help with the airline, however.
    – phoog
    Commented Oct 20, 2019 at 22:56
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    Yes, that's correct - but the OP complains that there's not enough time to get his passport renewed because he delayed in applying, not that the Greek government has offered him too narrow a window to do so. I'll edit my Answer. Commented Oct 20, 2019 at 23:04
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    @David he is complaining that his original request for renewal was denied because of a typo that a government official made, and that now because of that typo and following denial he doesn't have enough time to renew.
    – Ramon Snir
    Commented Oct 20, 2019 at 23:30
  • @RamonSnir Yes, you're correct. Thanks for pointing it out. I will further amend my Answer. Commented Oct 20, 2019 at 23:34
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    @David Well. I am not trying to convince you. But you don't seem to pay attention to the description. I only found out that it is hard to book an appointment with the embassy in August. I was not aware of the condition. I was expecting the passport to come before late December and that is why I planned the process early (almost 4 months in advance). Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 9:32

It's not certain that if the OP starts the procedure now, he will have a passport before his travel to Greece. The Greek embassies in Europe urge Greeks to go back home in order to renew their passport due to the long waiting times (reference: personal experience). And a fast procedure only exists for serious reasons like health problems.

The only loophole I can find, is that you replace your old ID card once you are in Greece - you will receive it on the same day - and then travel back using this as a backup. While you are in Greece you can also request a new passport which in case it's not ready when you are leaving, a family member or a friend of yours will receive on your behalf and can mail it to you. So you can have a passport for sure in the beginning of the new year.

  • Same day? It's fast, but not the same day. I did this last year and it took 2 (maybe one) days, but certainly not the same day.
    – terdon
    Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 15:28
  • @terdon I don't have such a recent experience as you, but this is what I experienced in 2015. I don't know if it differs per region, but according to this article this should be the case anywhere in Greece by October 2014. tovima.gr/2014/09/02/society/…
    – nka
    Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 7:50
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    Fair enough. It is entirely possible that I went at the end of the working day and that's why I remember it taking longer.
    – terdon
    Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 7:59

When my passport expired it took them 2 weeks to renew it for me (I'm from an EU country and renewed it in UK). Even then, you have like 2 months before. You can also pay a bit more and get it done faster. Not much more you can do.

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