Matt Schulz recently shared a travel nightmare on Business Insider that you may not have heard before, but it’s a much more common occurrence than you might think.
Matt and his family were at the airport trying to check in for their flight to Spain when they were told that Matt’s son wouldn’t be able to board the plane. His passport was set to expire in a few weeks, and you aren’t allowed to visit Spain unless you have at least 90 days of validity left on your passport.
There was no way to wiggle out of the situation. There was no easy fix. Packed, ready to go, and actually at the airport, Matt’s family had to cancel their trip because of a simple passport mistake.
While this is one of the more common passport mistakes, not many people are aware of it, so spread the word to anyone you know who travels internationally. Most European countries require at least 90 days of validity left on a passport when you enter the country, regardless of how long you plan to stay. Other countries – primarily in Asia – require at least 180 days of validity. This is because, when people visit these countries, they are usually allowed to stay visa-free for up to 90 days. To ensure that no one stays longer than their passport would allow, the countries don’t let you enter in the first place unless they can be confident that you’ll be able to leave again, as planned.
When planning your next international trip, don’t simply look at your planned return date and the expiration date of your passport to make sure they line up. Take the time to look up the passport requirements of the country as early as possible to avoid having your trip ruined.
Here are a few other common mistakes to watch out for:
- Don’t assume that your passport and your child’s passport expire at the same time. While adult passports are valid for ten years, minor passports are only valid for five.
- Make extra, extra sure that your name is spelled correctly. A typo can make your passport invalid in some cases.
- Make sure your name is up to date. It’s not a big deal if your address has changed, but if you’ve changed your name (whether due to a marriage or divorce or whatever the case may be), make sure to update your passport to match your current legal name.
- Be mindful of stamps from Israel. If you travel in the middle east, be aware that some countries will reject your passport if you have a stamp from Israel. You may need two passports or to ask the Israeli customs agent not to stamp your passport.
If you have a trip coming up soon and are just now realizing that you’ve made a common passport mistake, contact Swift as soon as possible. We can get you an expedited passport in as little as one business day. Save yourself time, money, and stress by double checking your travel documents right now.
Rob Lee is co-founder of Swift Passport and Visa Services. Originally from Michigan, Rob is an avid fisherman and SCUBA diver who enjoys adventure travel.