Passport expiry issues


All you ever wanted to know about passport expiration dates. Bad news: You’ve booked the flight, you’re ready to roll…  and you notice your passport expires in less than 6 months. Does that mean you will get through immigration, or be sent back on the next flight? Or does immigration not care, provided the passport is still valid? There is a lot of confusion about this issue and given the high stakes, plenty of anxiety too.

The answer is that it all depends on your passport, and your destination:

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Some countries have a strict 6-month validity rule in place. If your passport expires within 6 months of your date of arrival you will be turned away at immigration, if not before at your departure airport. These include: Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, UAE, Brazil, Ecuador, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Paraguay, Tunisia, Romania, Singapore and surprisingly, Belgium.

Other countries enforce a 3-month rule. These include: Cambodia, Denmark, Fiji, Switzerland, South Africa, New Zealand, Croatia and Estonia  

Many countries however require only a passport valid for the duration of your stay. Among these are: Kenya, Tanzania, France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, Malta, UK and USA.

There are some exceptions: EU citizens only ever need a valid passport, regardless of date, to travel in other EU countries. US citizens need only a driving license or valid passport to enter Canada, Mexico, Bahamas and any US overseas territories such as Puerto Rico.

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For any other nationalities: rather than risk travelling with a passport that will expire in 6 months or less, you are strongly advised to get your passport renewed or get an emergency passport before travel.



It is generally possible to get an emergency passport issued within two weeks or less, although it will cost you. In the US this is called an expedited renewal and in some cases can take as little as an hour to issue.


Last-minute passport renewals


It is generally possible to get an emergency passport issued within two weeks or less, although it will cost you. In the US this is called an expedited renewal. Brian Clucas of VisaHQ says that “a regular application can be processed within 4-6 days while expedited passport applications generally can be obtained within 2-3 days.”


Clucas reminds applicants that “if you posses a current passport that has, or will soon expire this will help - as opposed to a lost, or mutilated passport. In addition, applying for a replacement passport during holiday or high travel seasons, such as summer may cause a delay in the processing.”


Children and passports


Different rules apply to children when renewing passports. Kestutis Gregeris of TravelVisaPro says that “there is no renewal service for minors (children under 16). They must follow first time passport procedure until they turn 16. Another important problem is that passports for children are valid only for 5 years, whereas passport for adults are good for 10 years.” Gregeris has encountered more than one situation where parents did not realize that their passport is valid for more time than their children’s – and the trip never got past the departure airport.


One should also remember that US citizens must have a valid passport regardless of age. Even new born babies must have their own passport – kids cannot travel on their parents passport. Check with your consulate to see if similar rules apply to your nationality.

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Name changes and passports


Gregeris says that at TravelVisaPro their staff frequently find that people who get married or divorced, and change their name, forget to change the name on a valid passport. They then book a ticket under their new name, but their passport is still under the old name.” The result is that the passenger will be unable to fly. Gregeris advises that “if your passport is valid for long time, book the ticket under your old name as it appears on the passport. In this case, you can use that passport until it expires and save some money.”


Some other points to note:

    • Even when a country’s published rules state otherwise, you may encounter problems from uninformed immigration or airline officials when your passport has less than 6 months left to run.
    • Many tour package operators won’t even take a booking unless you have 6 months validity remaining on your passport.
    • Several accounts suggest that many countries won't issue you a visa in advance of travel if there is less than six months to go on your passport.
    • Most Arab or Middle Eastern countries will refuse entry to you if you have an Israeli stamp in your passport. Apply for a new one if this is the case.
    • Passports must have sufficient blank pages in – if yours is full you can apply to have new pages inserted.
    • US citizens must have a valid passport regardless of age. Even new born babies must have their own passport – kids cannot travel on their parents passport. Check with your consulate to see if similar rules apply to your nationality.


Bottom line
: Don’t take a chance, get your passport renewed before travel, regardless of where you’re going.

Finally, should you apply yourself or use an agency for this purpose?


It comes down to time and money – and how much of each you have available. If you are prepared to complete your own forms, physically go to the passport renewal office and queue, then doing it yourself will save you money. However, if you’re in a rush, or don’t have the time or patience, then using a reputable visa agency might be the way to go.


Brian Clucas of VisaHQ says that overall “using a passport expediting service can certainly have its benefits. The agent handling your application will be aware of things to look out for and will be able to help organize your information and documentation accordingly. In addition, their experience and familiarity with the entire process is much like having an “expert” on your side. They can also ensure that expedited applications are processed in a timely fashion, which is critical when travel plans leave no time for anything left to chance. Such services are often worthwhile just for the peace of mind they deliver.”


Kestutis Gregeris of TravelVisaPro says that if travellers use agencies they must ensure passport replacement insurance is offered. “If you misplace your passport or it gets lost in the mail, we will replace the passport free of our service charges. This provides extra insurance and safety when people mail us their documents.”


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