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Most travelers know they need a passport to travel internationally, but few are aware that, in many instances, your passport must be valid longer than your stay. In fact, many countries require it to be valid for six months beyond your intended return date. If it expires before that, you may be denied boarding or entry upon arrival at your destination and have to go straight home. To be safe, verify that your passport is valid for at least six months after your intended return date — if the expiration date is uncomfortably close to the cutoff, make sure you renew it way ahead of time. Unfortunately, this is something airlines will rarely mention, even when you’re booking, so consider yourself warned.
Below, we’ve done the heavy lifting and created a cheat sheet based on information from the US Department of State website to help you make sense of which countries require you to have a passport that lasts longer than your trip, whether it’s one, three or six more months. Note that certain countries, marked with an asterisk, deviate from the standard six-month requirement. These lists are also only related to passport-validity dates — we’re not getting into visa requirements, which vary depending on where you’re going and where you’re coming from.
Schengen Treaty Signers in Europe
Many European countries are signers of the Schengen Treaty and as a result, follow the 3+3 Rule, meaning your passport must be valid three months beyond your three-month entry visa, or, for a total of six months regardless of how long your initial stay is. Note that while some Schengen members only require passports to be valid three months beyond your intended stay, others assume you may stay the full 90 days of your visa validity and thus, the six-month time period.
Schengen Treaty signers include: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
The remaining countries listed below abide by the usual six months of passport validity unless otherwise noted.
Non-Schengen Europe, Asia and the Middle East
Note that while the UK and Ireland are both EU member states, they are not part of the Schengen arrangement and do not require an additional six-month validity period beyond your stay, though it is recommended.
Albania*, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus*, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Bulgaria, Cambodia, China, Croatia*, Hong Kong**, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan*, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Macau**, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, New Caledonia, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, East Timor, Turkmenistan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, West Bank/Gaza Strip and Yemen.
*Passport must be valid three months beyond scheduled departure date.
**Passport must be valid one month beyond the date of your intended stay.
Algeria, Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
North America and the Caribbean
Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, St. Barthelemy, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Panama*.
*Passport must be valid three months beyond arrival.
Bolivia, Ecuador, Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela.
French Polynesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, New Zealand*, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
*Passport must be valid one month beyond planned departure.
Some countries have a slight distinction in that they may require validity to be either six months from the date of entry or six months from date of intended departure. For simplicity, we’ve taken the conservative approach and assumed that for any country with a six-month rule, like most of the ones above, you should make sure your passport is valid six months past the date of intended departure just in case.
If the country you’re traveling to isn’t listed above, note that it likely doesn’t require anything other than your passport simply being valid throughout your intended stay — double-check with the US State Department website and if you’re cutting it close, consider renewing it well in advance to avoid any issues during your trip. For renewal and other passport and visa services, TPG recommends using Allied Passport.
Have you experienced problems with the passport-validity rule? How did you solve your issue? Tell us about it, below.
Featured image by Tetra Images/Getty.