Traveling abroad? Make sure you check this on your passport or it could cost you | Tech US News

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Masked travelers going through airport customs control with passports.

Image source: Getty Images

You can be denied boarding because of a passport rule that many people are unaware of.


Key points

  • A valid passport is required for international travel.
  • Many countries also require your passport to remain valid for a certain period of time after your travel dates.
  • If your passport does not meet a country’s entry requirements, the airline may not allow you to board your flight.

When traveling internationally, no item is more important than your passport. Although passports last a long time (US passports for those over 16 are issued for 10 years), they have an expiration date.

It makes sense that if your passport is expired, you will not be able to visit another country. But many countries have another passport rule that is not common knowledge. They may require your passport to remain valid for up to six months after your return date, otherwise you cannot visit. Here’s how it works and why you shouldn’t wait until the last minute to renew your passport.

How the passport validity rules work

Many countries have passport validity rules as part of their entry requirements. If a country has this kind of rule, it is not enough that your passport is valid for your travel dates. It must also remain valid for a certain period of time after your trip. It is usually one, three or six months, depending on the country.

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For example, the 26 European countries that are part of the Schengen area have a passport validity rule of three months after the departure date. Let’s say you plan to visit one of those countries from May 1-10, 2023. Your passport expires on June 20, 2023.

In that case, you will need to renew your passport before your trip. If you tried to visit your current passport, you will most likely be denied boarding at the airport. Not only will you lose your trip, but you are also not entitled to a refund in this case. You could cancel or change your ticket, but this depends on the type of airfare you’ve booked and there may be airline fees for doing so.

Why do countries have rules like this? They don’t want to take the risk of travelers overstaying their passport. Even if you know you’re not going to stay longer than your passport’s expiration date, the country you’re visiting doesn’t, and immigration prefers to play it safe.

How to check a country’s passport validity rule

The US State Department website makes it easy to check passport validity rules wherever you go. Here’s how:

  • Visit the US State Department’s country information page.
  • Find the country you plan to visit in the “More information about your destination” box.
  • On that country’s page, go to the “Quick Facts” section to see passport validity requirements.

Note that some countries have a validity rule that starts on the date of entry, while others start the clock from the date of departure when you leave the country.

The easiest and safest approach is to have a passport valid for at least six months after your scheduled departure date. So if you’re visiting another country from May 1-10, make sure your passport doesn’t expire on or after November 10.

Renew your passport early to avoid problems

There is already enough planning and costs involved in international travel. The last thing you need is to wonder if your passport’s expiration date is going to be a problem, or if you’ll need (and pay extra) to renew it at the last minute.

Renew your passport with plenty of time to spare so you don’t have this problem. You can do it whenever you want. There is no rule that it has to be within a certain period of time from the expiry date of your passport for you to be able to renew it.

The USA.gov website recommends renewing your passport approximately nine months before it expires. After you submit your application, it can take up to two weeks for it to be processed. Processing takes seven to ten weeks for routine processing or four to six weeks for expedited processing. Shipping times vary across the country.

For more information on how to renew your passport, visit the Renew My Passport page on the US Department of State website. Most adults must renew by mail and pay by check or money order. A small portion of adults are eligible for a pilot program that allows them to renew online and pay using other methods, including credit and debit cards.

Passport validity rules can put your vacation on ice before it even starts. Now that you know how they work, you can make sure your passport won’t be a problem the next time you travel abroad.

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