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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

The collective passport and who can use it

A collective (or group) passport is an easy and cost-effective way for organised groups of young people to make trips to certain European countries. You must allow at least six weeks to get a collective passport, but make sure you apply in good time as it may take longer. Find out who can use a collective passport and how to apply for one.

When you can use collective passports

The use of collective passports is governed by an international treaty.

You can only use a collective passport to travel to certain European countries. You can’t use one to travel outside Europe. The Identity and Passport Service (IPS) won’t be able to issue a collective passport for a country where they aren’t accepted. If a collective passport can’t be issued, IPS will contact the group leader named on the application.

Because the rules are complex, IPS recommends that wherever possible young people travel on their own passports.

IPS has confirmed that you can currently travel to, or through, the following countries on a collective passport issued by the UK:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Romania
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland

IPS has confirmed that you can’t travel to, or through, the following countries on a collective passport issued by the UK:

  • Bulgaria
  • Czech Republic
  • Estonia
  • Hungary
  • Latvia
  • Slovakia

For questions about collective passports or visiting any other European country, call the Passport Adviceline on 0300 222 0000.

Who collective passports are for

A collective passport can be issued to approved groups of students, scouts, guides or other recognised youth organisations planning to travel together overseas. You can't use it to travel within the UK.

There can be between five and fifty children and young people on a collective passport. For a larger group (more than 50 members), you should apply for two or more collective passports and divide the group between them.

Everyone on the collective passport must be under 18 years old by the end of the planned trip. They must also be a British national, which means they are either a:

  • British citizen (please note that children born in the UK on or after 31 December 2023 may not have British nationality)
  • British overseas territories citizen
  • British overseas citizen
  • British subject
  • British national (overseas)
  • British protected person

See ‘Nationality groups who are eligible for a British passport’ for more detailed information about each of these groups.

If you're unsure about nationality or want to discuss any exceptions to the above, contact the Passport Adviceline on 0300 222 0000.

Group leaders and deputies

Each group must have a named adult group leader to travel with them.

IPS also recommends that groups name a deputy leader. This person could take over if, for example, the leader were to become ill. If there is no named deputy leader, the collective passport becomes invalid if the leader is unable to travel. Having a named deputy means your group can avoid delays while the name of a new leader is added to the collective passport.

Group leaders and deputy leaders must be over 21 years old and hold a valid ten-year British passport covering the full period of the trip.

Make sure you apply in good time

All collective passport applications from the UK are dealt with in the IPS Durham Office. This service operates to strict turnaround times and you must allow at least six weeks for a collective passport application to be processed.

Although IPS tries to meet all dates of travel, it can’t guarantee to return collective passports in less than six weeks.

Next steps – how to apply

You can get the application form and details of the supporting documents you need in the following sections:

  • ‘The application form for collective passports’
  • ‘Supporting documents for collective passports’

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