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Do I need to renew my passport before my cruise?

by Pushpa
(Nottingham, NH USA)

Question: I am going on a Mediterranean cruise in late September and will return in the first week in October. The cruise starts in Spain, goes to France and then Italy. My passport expires in February 2011. Do I need to renew the passport before the trip? I don't know what those countries requirements for passport validity length is.

Answer: France, Italy and Spain are all party to the Schengen Agreement. This agreement eliminates all internal border controls between them. To enter one Schengen country is to gain up to 90 days of continuous travel between the member states. Once you are in a Schengen country, you do not show your passport when you cross their borders.

If you are coming for business or tourism, you don’t need to have a visa for the initial entry into the Schengen area, but you must have a passport valid three months beyond the proposed stay.

Since you will return to the United States in October and your passport does not expire until the following February, there is no need to renew it before your trip.

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