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The Six Month Validity Rule for U.S. Passports

View fo St Lucia Caribbean Island

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 the rules.

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.

Click here for expedited passport courier service in 24 to 48 hours!.

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