If your U.S. passport is set to expire in six months or fewer, it’s high time for a renewal.
While it’s always been safest to keep at least six months’ time on your passport before it expires, more and more countries are now enforcing regulations that demand it. Early passport renewal is the key to ensure you’re not stuck paying the consequences.
What Are the Consequences?
A release from the U.S. Department of State notes U.S. citizens traveling with passports that expire in fewer than six months have had disruptions to their planned trips. These have included:
- Being denied airline boarding
- Being detained upon arrival in several foreign destinations
What happens when you’re detained upon arrival at foreign destinations depends on the authorities at each destination. You’ll be subject to each country’s specific laws and regulations. You’ll also be responsible for paying your own way back home if needed. The only help the U.S. government can provide is information for the foreign embassy in that country or info on hiring an English-speaking lawyer.
Renewing your passport early is suddenly a very good idea.
Why Six Months?
The travel disruptions have occurred in many European travel destinations in the Schengen area, which is comprised of 26 different countries throughout which you can travel while only showing your passport upon initial entry into the area. Although several countries within the Schengen area say passports must be valid for three months after entry, many countries assume travelers will be staying for the full three months allowed. They thus require six months’ validity on all travelers’ passports.
The 26 countries that make up the Schengen area are:
- Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia
- Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary
- Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania
- Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland
- Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland
Each country has its own passport validity regulations, although the U.S. Department of State recommends six months or more for all of the above.
What about Other Foreign Destinations?
Other countries across the globe also have their own passport validity regulations, and some may only require your passport be valid at the time of entry into your foreign destination. Take a look at Swift’s list of Countries Enforcing Six Month Validity Rule. You can specifically check what your destination country requires by visiting the search page for country specific information.
Even when countries only ask your passport be valid at the time of entry, you’ll again be safest with at least six months validity on your passport at any given time. It’s much less of a hassle to renew your passport early than it is to risk missing your planned flight or being detained by authorities at your foreign destination. This is especially true when Swift makes it so easy and fast to renew your passport online.