Little known travel rules British holidaymakers need to know as dad forced to drive 1000 miles to join family in Croatia

Woman with suitcase holding passport and plane ticket amid new travel rules
From passport expirations to a new EU visa, here are the travel rules Brits need to know. (Getty Images)

When Peter Holt was turned away from boarding a flight to Croatia earlier this summer, he was shocked. He still had months on his passport, so why wasn’t he allowed to board?

Unbeknown to Holt, he had become one of several British travellers to be affected by a little-known passport rule that deems a UK passport ‘expired’ 10 years after it’s been issued - even if it still has months left until its expiration date.

Holt, 50, decided to drive 1,102 miles in his Mini Cooper through France, Germany, Austria and Slovenia to join his family, who had flown to Croatia without him.

Read more: Man forced to drive through five countries due to ‘baffling’ passport rule (The Independent, 4-min read)

 Peter Holt with his family
Peter Holt drove to Croatia from Surrey after he was turned away at the airport due to his passport being issued more than 10 years prior. (SWNS)

It comes after another holidaymaker, Kirsty Hawes, 28, was denied boarding at Luton airport after she travelled on a passport that was issued more than 10 years prior, but it still had months before its expiration date.

"They took our passports and said you can’t fly. I thought it was a joke. But they were serious and said my passport was out of date. I said 'no it’s not – it doesn’t run out for seven months,'" she said.

Read more: Little known passport rule sees woman miss her £1K holiday (Yahoo Life UK, 4-min read)

Prior to Brexit, Brits with UK passports could travel in and out of the EU as much as they liked as long as they held a valid passport, even if the passport expired on the day they returned.

This new rule is just one of several others that could catch holidaymakers out when travelling abroad. We detail all you need to know, below.

Little known travel rules Brits need to know before a holiday

1. ETIAS are required in Schengen from 2024

From 2024, Brits must apply for a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) when visiting any of the Schengen countries like Greece, Spain, Germany, Switzerland and Portugal.

Each ETIAS will cost €7 (£6) and most applications will take between a few minutes and 96 hours to be processed. You can find out more here.

Crystal clear sea, Loutro, Crete island, Greece
Greece is just one of the countries that will require Brits to hold an ETIAS in 2024. (Getty Images)

2. The three-month passport rule

Post-Brexit, UK passport holders now have to have at least three months remaining before their passport expired to travel to EU countries. If you have less than three months, you will need to renew your passport before travelling.

This rule extends to six months for those travelling to Turkey and northern Cyprus.

3. Travelling to or via the US requires an ESTA

If you are travelling to the US or getting a connecting flight via the US, you will need an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) visa waiver which has to be applied for online within the 90 days before you travel.

UK passport holders who have travelled to or visits Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen since March 2011 are not normally eligible for an ESTA.

An ESTA costs $21 (£17) and can take up to 72 hours to be approved, so be sure to do it at least one week before your flight.

Once you have your ESTA, it is valid for two years or until your passport’s expiry date if that is before the two-year mark.

The Coastal Road, sandy beach and open sea in summer season Nature recovered Environment and Travel background
New Zealand is one country that requires an e-Visa before visiting. (Getty Images)

4. Some countries require e-Visas

British passport holders can travel to around 117 countries visa-free, but several - including New Zealand and Australia - require an e-Visa before you visit.

It’s always best to check the specific country’s entry requirements before you travel.

5. Your passport must have been issued less than 10 years ago

Even if you have three or more months until your passport’s expiry date, if you have had your passport for over 10 years you will need to renew it before you travel.

6. You need to have £93 per day in Spain

Post-Brexit, UK passport holders travelling to Spain could now be asked to prove they have a return or onward ticket and that they have pre-booked accommodation.

While this is rare, spot checks do take place and you could also be asked to show evidence that you have ‘sufficient financial means’ for your trip, which is the equivalent of €109, or £93, per person per day.