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I was supposed to be travelling to Norway from the UK for work this week from Stansted Airport by RyanAir, but was denied boarding at the gate. The reason given was that my passport, which has a stated expiration date in November 2022, becomes 10 years old in May 2022, less than 3 months from today, let alone my date of departure, and that since Brexit, extensions beyond the 10 years are no longer recognised.

After an exciting tour of the staff corridors zig-zagging between arrivals and departures on my way out, I was doing some googling, I came across this UK government site.

Which includes the following statement:

Your passport must meet 2 requirements. It must be:

  • 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’)

These requirements are unambiguously met by my passport.

It then goes on to say:

We are asking the European Commission to clarify the 10-year rule. Their guidance for Schengen border guards may not be updated until the spring of 2022. Until then, for some Schengen countries your passport may need to be less than 10 years old during your whole visit, and the 3 months at the end of your visit may need to be within 10 years of your passport’s issue date.

Which seems to suggest that the above rules are not, in fact, sufficient to be granted entrance.

Does anyone have up to date info about whether I should have been allowed to board, and/or if I have any recourse with RyanAir?

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    This has been an ongoing issue with conflicting information and flip-flopping. See for instance independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/… An additional difficulty seems to be that some border guards apply (or have applied) the rule incorrectly, leading airlines to an abundance of caution (the cost of a denied boarding compensation is probably lower then the penalty for letting someone board with invalid documents).
    – jcaron
    Feb 14 at 20:18
  • It is not when your passport expires but when ten years is up following its issue. So when was yours issued?
    – mdewey
    Feb 15 at 14:40
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    @mdewey that information is in the question, as is government advice saying both that the expiration date is what you should check, and that the 10 years after issue is what matters. The question is largely about the contradiction in that advice
    – Tristan
    Feb 15 at 15:33
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    What are the consequences if the airline denies you boarding, incorrectly but not unreasonably?
    – gnasher729
    Feb 19 at 14:02

2 Answers 2

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Latest from the EU Commission on passport validity - European Commission - "The conditions set out in article 6(1)(a) of the Schengen Borders code (i.e. that the passport's validity shall extend at least three months after the intended date of departure from the Member States territory, and that that the passport shall have been issued within the previous 10 years) must both be complied with at the moment of entry. "The condition that the passport must have been issued within the previous 10 years does not extend for the duration of the intended stay. It is enough if this condition is fulfilled at the moment of entry. "To give a practical example, a non-EU traveller arriving on 1 December 2021 for a 20 days stay in the EU with a passport issued on 2 December 2011 and valid until 2 April 2022 will be allowed entry."

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    This answer is on-point, but would be more persuasive if it included the source URL for the included quotations, as well as copied/pasted actual text from those URLs. May 13 at 17:02
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No, you were correcly denied boarding at the gate.

Until 2018, the UK issued passports that were valid longer than 10 years (the remaining time of the previous passport was added). For new passports this should no longer happen.

Before 2021, for UK citizens, only proof of EU citizenship was required, so it was not important that the validity of the passport was older than 10 years.

Since 2021-01-01, UK citizens must fulfill the conditions set out in Article 6 of the Schengen Border Code, since they are now considered third-country nationals.

Article 6 Schengen Border Code
Entry conditions for third-country nationals

  1. For intended stays on the territory of the Member States of a duration of no more than 90 days in any 180-day period, which entails considering the 180-day period preceding each day of stay, the entry conditions for third-country nationals shall be the following:
    (a) they are in possession of a valid travel document entitling the holder to cross the border satisfying the following criteria:
  • (i) its validity shall extend at least three months after the intended date of departure from the territory of the Member States. In a justified case of emergency, this obligation may be waived;
  • (ii) it shall have been issued within the previous 10 years;

Until the European Commission has clarified the 10-year rule, one should assume that everything within Article 6(1)(a)(i,ii) defines what a valid travel document is while within the Schengen Area.

For the Schengen Area in general: Entry requirements - Germany travel advice - GOV.UK: valid for at least 3 months after the day you plan to leave Germany, or any other Schengen country ; The 3 months you need when leaving a country must be within 10 years of the passport issue date.


Update:

2022-04-22: Hampshire family fall foul of post-Brexit passport rule - BBC News

...
Nina Gurd was told her passport, which expires next February, was not valid for travel to Portugal.

She went to the airport, confident she had more than the required three months before the expiry date which had been extended when she renewed her passport.

But she was told the expiry date was irrelevant, she told the BBC.

"The lady at Bournemouth Airport said it needs to be within 10 years of the issue date," she explained.

Mrs Gurd's passport was originally issued on 29 May 2012, meaning it would have been due to expire next month.

But when she renewed it early, another nine months were added, giving it a new expiry date of 28 February 2023.

Mrs Gurd, her husband John and their three sons Jack, Harry and Charlie, were forced to return to their home in Botley, Hampshire, missing out on their holiday in the Algarve.

Mr Gurd said: "When we were booking our holiday, we were only ever asked for our passport numbers and the expiry dates, nothing else.

"But the expiry date is apparently meaningless."

...
But Mr Gurd said the advice was "all incredibly vague".
...


2022-04-25: Airports wrong to turn away holidaymakers, EU says - BBC News
Once the three-month expiry buffer is taken into account, a passport needs to have been issued no more than nine years and nine months ago.

However, the EU's executive arm has now said a "more generous interpretation of the rules is possible".

It said in a statement: "Our previous advice was intended to make sure travellers are prepared to comply with the most stringent possible interpretation of the Schengen rules."

Requiring travellers to have passports less than 10 years old throughout their stay provided a guarantee the documents would not be refused at entry, it said.

But "based on the experience gathered in implementing these rules" and in discussion with member states, it was "now clear that a more generous interpretation of the rules is possible and we have therefore updated our advice".

Entry should be allowed to those travelling with passports issued within the previous 10 years at the moment of entry into the Schengen Area, it added.

Note: the article did not supply a link to this statement or updated advice.

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    (-1) The OP is aware of that, it's already mentioned in the question. Copy-pasting the Borders Code doesn't resolve the question at all, which is a rather subtle question of interpretation (how conditions i and ii should be read together). When s/he was trying to board, s/he did have a passport that was both valid for 3 months after the intended date of departure and issued within the previous 10 years. If the German authorities take a specific interpretation, that's relevant information but that doesn't obviously follow from the wording in the Code.
    – Relaxed
    Feb 15 at 8:36
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    Note that in a previous case, the EUCJ clearly ruled that the conditions in article 6(1)(a) and 6(1)(b) must be evaluated separately, i.e. that the requirement to have a valid passport and a valid visa is not a requirement to have a valid visa in a valid passport. It is not absurd to think that the limits on passport validity should be interpreted in a similar fashion.
    – Relaxed
    Feb 15 at 8:40
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    I don't understand the 6 downvotes to this answer. The last line is quoted from UK govt website which unambiguously states that 3 months must be within 10 years of passport issue dates.
    – RedBaron
    Feb 16 at 5:41
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    @RedBaron that particular quote includes different wording than the wording on the page for Norway, further highlighting that government advice here is inconsistent. Simply quoting one set of advice without addressing that inconsistency fails to answer the question
    – Tristan
    Feb 16 at 9:40

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