The Six Month Validity Rule for U.S. Passports
Imagine your parents, bless their hearts, have given you and your
bride-to-be a week-long honeymoon to St Lucia beginning the day after
your wedding. You dig your passport out of the closet and are relieved
to discover that it doesn't expire until a couple of months after your
honeymoon. Wedding plans are in place, the trip is paid for, and
visions of white sand beaches and moonlit nights dance in your heads.
Then, the unthinkable happens; the
airline notifies you two weeks before the wedding that St Lucia is one
of those countries that apply the Six Month Validity rule for U.S.
passports. This means your passport has to be valid for at least six
months beyond your travel dates. Since your passport expires two months
after your travel date, you have to renew it or you will not be allowed
to board the plane.
It turns out, you may never get to use the full ten years of
your passport due to the long list of countries that require passports
be valid for six months
beyond the travel date for entry. It is kind of
like purchasing a year-long gym membership and never getting to use the
last few months before you have to renew. The reason for the rule is
somewhat of an enigma.
Speculation includes that it is a carryover rule from the days before expedited passports
unforeseen circumstances like illness or accident could delay your
departure beyond your tourist visa term, other countries want to be
sure that if they deport you, you're ready to go without delay, it
reduces the number of people renewing passports at
their overseas consulates and is therefore a money-saver, or that early
renewals are a money generator. It very likely could be that many
countries allow visitors to stay up to six months at a time. Therefore,
they want to make sure the visitors' passports are valid for at least
the period of stay permitted. Whatever the reason, it is a widely
agreed upon passport policy among many countries, so you need to know
Each country makes its own rules, for example, all of the European countries that are part of the Schengen Agreement
require three months passport validity beyond travel dates. The United
Kingdom only requires that your passport be valid for the entire
duration of your stay. Some countries set the three month or six month
validity rule from your entry date, some set it for your exit date, so
it is important to know each country's rules. Having a passport that is
valid five months and twenty-two days beyond your travel date will get
you turned away at the boarding gate if six months is required; it is that important.
The best advice is to check the entry requirements
are for each country you plan to visit. You can also double check the information by directly contacting each country's embassy
If you discover your passport does not have sufficient validity
and you don't have much time to resolve the issue, you can get it
renewed at a regional agency
as quickly as the same day. If you can't visit a regional center, you can authorize a registered passport courier
to submit the application on your behalf.
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