I have a valid South African passport and an expired British passport - it expired 18 October 2009. I need to travel to the UK in March 2015. Do I need a visa to get into the UK?

  • 1
    Will you be renewing your British passport or hoping to travel on your SA passport and claiming your citizenship entry?
    – Mark Mayo
    Feb 26, 2015 at 7:46
  • I guess that the guys at the expatriates SE may know this a lot better.
    – DCTLib
    Feb 26, 2015 at 8:49
  • @drat Because travel plans with expired passports are a topic that expatriates are much more frequently dealing with in comparison to "casual" travellers. I didn't say that it's off-topic here. So for example if (big if) the UK accepts expired UK passports in combination with an official identification document from another trusted country (e.g., a US driver's license), people there are much more likely to know it (and the official rules for such exceptions).
    – DCTLib
    Feb 26, 2015 at 8:55
  • Thank you for your answers. @ Mark Mayo, yes I will be renewing my British passport as soon as I am in the UK
    – Tans
    Mar 12, 2015 at 14:02

2 Answers 2


Given your choice of tags I believe this is relevant:

there is no formal requirement in United Kingdom law for British Citizens to carry a passport to enter the United Kingdom

and that despite being from six years ago is still the law. However note the risk of delay. If you don't need a passport (or travel document equivalent for such purpose) you won't need a visa. The length of time your passport has been invalid won't help.

  • 4
    Anecdotally it's certainly possible to enter the UK without a passport. A few years ago my grandfather travelled to France, and accidentally took my grandmother's passport instead of his own, discovering this only when he tried to re-enter the UK. He was eventually admitted on the strength of his WWII-era identity papers. A passport which has only been expired for 6 years is positively new in comparison. Feb 26, 2015 at 17:25
  • @pnuts Thank you very much for your relevant and informative link.
    – Tans
    Mar 12, 2015 at 14:05
  • 2
    I have personal experience helping a friend of mine (a British citizen) to enter the UK without his passport (which had been destroyed in an accident). I was one of the people who confirmed his identity. It can definitely be done (we told immigration ahead of time to expect our arrival and sent them documents in advance).
    – A E
    Sep 7, 2015 at 19:52
  • @PeterTaylor does that mean the French let him in on someone else’s passport?
    – rhialto
    Jul 23, 2019 at 8:19
  • 1
    @rhialto, I'm not sure whether it was that or that they didn't check passports at all. I think probably the latter. I'm afraid I can't check, because he's no longer alive to ask. Jul 23, 2019 at 9:45

If you want to enter the UK as a British citizen and you have an expired UK passport, your case is covered by Paragraph 12 of the Immigration Rules...

A person claiming to be a British citizen must prove that he has the right of abode in the United Kingdom by producing either:

(i) a United Kingdom passport describing him as a British citizen or as a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies having the right of abode in the United Kingdom; or
(ii) a certificate of entitlement duly issued by or on behalf of the Government of the United Kingdom certifying that he has the right of abode.

If you want to enter the UK as a British citizen, you need to show them a UK passport. There is no stipulation in the rule that says the passport must be current. However, the keyword in this rule is 'describing', so the passport needs to reasonably sync up with your appearance, age, and so on.

As always, carry a print out of Paragraph 12 with you when you travel. It's the so-called "letter of the law" and you can't get more authoritative than that.

Adding: if, instead you want to enter the UK as a South African citizen, you will need an entry clearance prior to arrival.

  • 1
    Thank you, I will definitely carry a copy of clause 12 with me.
    – Tans
    Mar 12, 2015 at 13:55
  • 1
    You are right regarding paragraph 12 "letter of the law". I have made a copy. Thank you
    – Tans
    Mar 12, 2015 at 14:06

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .