Travel Tip of the Month:  Heading Overseas? Check Your Passport!

Travel Tip of the Month:  Heading Overseas? Check Your Passport!

If you are reading this article, chances are you love to travel and/or are planning a trip overseas in the near future.  And while the task of choosing your destinations, tours and accommodations can be almost as much fun as the trip itself, all international travel planning should start with a quick document requirement check. What is required to travel to the destination of your dreams? Will you need visas? Immunizations? Things vary from place to place, but top of your checklist should be checking your passport’s expiration date. Knowing the validity rules of the countries you plan to visit and matching these with your passport’s expiration date could mean the difference between getting on a plane and heading for the vacation of a lifetime or being turned away at the airport counter before you ever even get your Starbucks latte on the way to security!

Why You Should Check Your Passport’s Expiration Date:

Image by Vicki Nunn from Pixabay

What many folks don’t realize is that if your passport is set to expire in six months or less, you may not be able to fly to or from certain countries. This is why your passport expiration date is one of the first things you should check when you begin planning your trip.

Depending on where you are traveling, you may be required to have anywhere from 3-6 months validity beyond your return date remaining on your passport in order to be allowed to board a flight and/or enter a country.

For example, if you were headed to Greece, according to the website of the US Embassy & Consulate in Greece, if you are a US citizen traveling to “Greece or any of the other European countries in the Schengen area for short-term tourism, a business trip, or in transit to a non-Schengen destination requires that the passport be valid for at least three months beyond the intended date of departure.”  The webpage continues to say that if it does not meet the Schengen requirements, you may be refused boarding by the airline either at your initial boarding location or even while transferring planes.  You could also be denied entry to your destination upon arrival.

(Countries that our guests travel to often, i.e. Belgium, France, Netherlands, Germany, Iceland, all part of the Schengen countries, as well as many others, are all part of the list of Schengen area.)

The website goes on to say that since US citizens are allowed to enter the EU for a max of 90 days (within a rolling 180-day period) that you should be able to show that their passport is valid for 3 months after the 90 days would end.  While a return ticket could be proof that you are planning on going home earlier than this, there is still the possibility that this would not be acceptable to the powers at be, and therefore  the site recommends that your passport be valid for at least 6 months from your anticipated return date.

Outside of the Schengen zone, there are a number of countries that require 6 months of validity post return. Some of these are Egypt, India, China, Israel, Turkey, Thailand and Malaysia.

Regardless of where you are traveling, you should check the government website to see what the latest requirements are regarding traveling to and within that region.

What Should You Do if You are Traveling Soon and do not Have Sufficient Time to Renew Your Passport?

Depending on how much time you have before you are traveling and the reason why you will be traveling, you may be able to expedite your passport renewal.  The US Dept. of State website is where you should head for information and instructions on how to proceed.  If the parameters or availability of appointments are not sufficient to meet your needs on time, you may want to contact your senator’s office or contact an expediter for additional assistance.

Bon Voyage!

Make it your standard to begin your travel planning with the not so exciting- but necessary- tasks of checking required documentation and entry requirements for your dream destination.  This will ensure a smoother experience and allow you to relax and start your vacation as soon as you are packed and on your way. Bon Voyage and stay tuned for more travel trips.