We all know that a valid passport is a requirement of international travel. In fact, post 9-11, even Canada and Mexico require them of US travelers, whereas prior to 2001, they did not. What is lesser known among those who travel internationally for business and leisure is that many countries require that there be at least three months of remaining validity on a passport, whereas others require at least six months. As a traveler, it is your responsibility to know which rules apply to your destinations. Failure to meet these requirements will result in being denied entry. Chances are, however, you won’t even get that far, as most airlines will not allow you to board your flight should your passport fail to meet the expiration requirements of your destination country. Imagine having gone through months of planning, days of packing, and hours of transportation to the airport only to be turned away at the gate. To avoid this worst of all possible scenarios, let’s take a closer look at what is required, and where.
Schengen Area Requirements
The Schengen Agreement of 1985, named after the winemaking town in Luxembourg where it was signed, was initially adopted by five European countries which included Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. One of the many goals of this agreement was to promote passport-free travel for residents of the EU, between EU countries. Since the inception of this agreement, 25 European countries have joined the Schengen region. For US travelers to and between most Schengen countries, passports must be valid for at least three months beyond your intended date of departure. Some Schengen countries, like Germany, for instance, still adhere to the six-month rule, so it is best to know before you go. European countries that are not part of the Schengen region include Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom. As exceptions to the agreement, Ireland and the United Kingdom require only that your passport be valid for the duration of your intended stay, Croatia requires three months, while Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria require a full six months.
If your travel plans include a trip to China, you will need to make sure that there are at least six months of remaining validity on your passport. The same applies for Vietnam and Thailand. Japan and the Philippines, on the other hand, only require that your passport be valid upon entry to the country. India only requires validity upon entry as well, but since you also need to apply for a separate tourist visa to gain entry, you might as well renew your passport, should your plans include a visit there.
For most South American destinations like Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay, passports only need to be valid upon entry to the country. Visa requirements do vary between countries, however, so it is best to research your destinations carefully, especially if you intend to move between countries while visiting the continent.
Canada and Mexico
Although our North American neighbors do require passports from US guests, they only need to be valid at the time of entry into the respective countries.
Know Before You Go
Regardless of the destinations you have in mind, it is always your responsibility to know what documentation is required of you before you plan to depart. A convenient place to find a definitive list of passport and visa requirements is https://travel.state.gov. Of course, the pros at AmTrav are here to help you navigate the ever-changing landscape of travel documentation as well.
By: Denise D.