Passport Expiration Dates Can Impact You More Than You Think

A little-known fact about international travel could snarl your plans or bring them to an abrupt halt if you don’t pay attention to it. Just like you read labels for expiration dates, you need to know your passport expiration date.
Turns out, many countries around the world, with the exception of the European nations, require passports to be valid for six months or more before your entry date. The restriction may apply to your date of entry or your planned date of departure. That is, if you’re flying home from Spain on December 31, your passport can’t expire after June 30.
Twenty-six European countries follow a lesser known law called the Schengen Agreement which allows you to enter their sovereignties, provided three months’ validity remains on your passport beyond your planned date of departure. In the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, no minimum validity is enforced.
The best way to know which countries have which rules is to check the U.S. Department of State’s website. It has a menu of country-by-country details.
Another thing to keep in mind when traveling with children is that their passports are only good for five years instead of 10. For one family, their son’s passport expiration date completely derailed a long-planned trip to Spain.
They were just two hours from departure when an American Airlines representative told them their son couldn’t board the plane because his passport was due to expire. Turns out a valid passport isn’t always a valid passport.
How can you keep this from happening to you? Follow these guidelines as you plan your next international excursion:
The family in question was able to rebook their flights and used points to put together a last-minute trip stateside. They learned their lesson, so let their experience be a cautionary tale.
Have you ever had passport issues when you travel? Any big problems or narrow-misses? Tell us about it on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter page.
Photo credit: Tony Webster (Wikimedia /Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)