You will need to ensure that you have a valid passport which covers the duration of your stay whatever country you are traveling to. In addition some countries may require you to obtain a Visa for the duration of your stay. Tourist Visas are easy to obtain for most countries but you may have to provide extra information for longer extended Visas.

Travel within the EU

Although the UK is a full member of the EU you will still be required to carry a full 10 year passport that is current for the duration of your stay in Europe. Most countries have abandoned passport checks at land borders but you will still be expected to produce a valid form of identification. For UK citizens the only document which suffices is a British passport. Furthermore you will have your passport checked by immigration control when you return to the UK.

Traveling outside the EU

For travel outside the EU your passport will almost certainly be checked at all borders, further many countries will require you by law to be able to produce your passport as identification if asked by the local police. For this reason while outside the EU it is imperative that you carry your passport with you at all times and take proper measures to ensure its safety. It is advisable to store your passport in a secure money belt or inside pocket as passport theft is rife in many countries.

Obtaining a passport

You can request an application form for renewing or obtaining a passport online on the Identity and Passport Service’s website here . Or alternatively you can phone the passport office’s advice line on 0300 222 0000. Many post offices also carry application forms and there is a pilot scheme to apply online here.

The application contains detailed information to help you filling in the form and in addition you will need recent passport photographs and a counter-signatory from a British or Irish citizen. The list of acceptable counter-signatories given by the UK passport office is:

  • Accountant
  • Airline Pilot
  • Articled Clerk of a Limited Company
  • Assurance Agent of Recognised Company
  • Bank/Building Society Official
  • Barrister
  • Chairman/Director of Limited Company
  • Chiropodist
  • Commissioner of Oaths
  • Councillor: Local or County
  • Civil Servant (permanent)
  • Dentist
  • Director/Manager of a VAT-registered Charity
  • Director/Manager/Personnel Officer of a VAT-registered Company
  • Engineer (with professional Qualifications)
  • Financial Services Intermediary (e.g. a Stockbroker or Insurance Broker)
  • Fire Service Official
  • Funeral Director
  • Insurance Agent (full time) of a Recognised Company
  • Journalist
  • Justice of the Peace
  • Legal Secretary (members and fellows of the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs)
  • Licensee of Public House
  • Local Government Officer
  • Manager/Personnel Officer (of Limited Company)
  • Member of Parliament
  • Merchant Navy Officer
  • Minister of a Recognised Religion
  • Nurse (RGN and RMN)
  • Officer of the Armed Services (Active or Retired)
  • Optician
  • Paralegal
  • Person with Honours (an OBE or MBE for example)
  • Pharmacist
  • Photographer (Professional)
  • Police Officer
  • Post Office Official
  • President/Secretary of a Recognised Organisation
  • Salvation Army Officer
  • Social Worker
  • Solicitor
  • Surveyor
  • Teacher, Lecturer
  • Trade Union Officer
  • Travel Agency (Qualified)
  • Valuer and auctioneer (fellow and associate members of the incorporated society)
  • Warrant Officers and Chief Petty Officers

Once you have filled in the application form and obtained a counter-signatory you can either return the application form by post using the envelope supplied or you can hand it in at most post office branches.

Processing your application can take up to three weeks so be sure to apply early. If you need the passport processed quicker the passport office offers a fast-track and premium service for an additional fee. The fast track service take one week to process and the premium service guarantees same day processing. Both of these additional services require you to go to your local passport office in person.


Visas need to be issued by the destination countries authorities. Our pages on specific destinations will give details of obtaining Visas for those countries. For other countries the usual place to apply is to that countries Embassy or Consulate. If you are unsure of where to apply for a Visa and if you require a Visa you can find more information at the FCO’s website.