Passport expiring soon? Visit these countries within your 3-month renewal deadline
Have you looked at your passport's expiration date recently? If you think you're in the clear for summer travel with six months or less remaining until your renewal date, think again.
Actually, if you have less than eight months of validity remaining on your passport, for many countries around the world, you may already be too late for summer travel. The issue stems from the six-month validity rule that you'll encounter in most European countries in the Schengen Area – including summer favorites France, Italy and Spain – that requires your passport to be valid for a minimum of six months after entry. The six-month validity rule also applies to large portions of Africa, Asia and South America. In addition, many other countries enforce three-month validity requirements for passports. This further limits your options for travel if your expiration date is quickly approaching.
Couple that with wait times for passport renewals currently ranging anywhere from five weeks (expedited) to 11 weeks, and you may find yourself crossing many countries off your travel list if you want to get away soon.
Don't despair, though. You can still travel internationally with just a month or two left on your passport before the expiration date. This is a fact I learned firsthand. I recently had to research alternatives for my family when our spring break trip to Kenya (with a six-month passport validity requirement, plus a visa) was off the table when I discovered my son's five-year passport would expire a month after our planned trip.
Where to head instead? Here are all the options where passports need only be valid at the time of entry or for the duration of your stay. Note, though, that you will need a blank passport page for an entry stamp, unless otherwise noted below.
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The Bahamas and Bermuda
If you're looking for Caribbean surf and sun, these two countries will welcome you as long as your passport is valid at the time of entry. Extra bonus: Both Bermuda and the Bahamas are included in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s 16 international Preclearance locations. The Bahamas also offers TSA PreCheck in Nassau, making your return to the U.S. almost as easy as a domestic trip.
Oh, Canada, thank you for being a friend. The entire country -- including summer favorites such as Victoria and Vancouver in the west and Francophile Montreal and Quebec, plus Toronto, in the east -- only requires a passport that's valid at your date of entry. Like Bermuda and the Bahamas, Canada also offers the U.S. CBP's Preclearance program at locations in Calgary, Toronto, Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver, Victoria and Winnipeg.
England turned out to be my family's spring break savior. London provided an easy getaway from the East Coast, as well as nonstop airfare available to book within a short time frame. If you choose this option, you can visit Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with the same passport, too, just as long as it's valid for the duration of your stay. (Note, though, that you can't visit other European countries with three- or six-month passport validity requirements in the same trip.)
The Emerald Isle is another easy-to-reach country from the U.S. (and another spot my family has visited for a surprisingly sunny spring break in the past). Ireland only requires that your passport be valid for the duration of your stay. Extra bonus: Customs Preclearance is available at airports in both Dublin and Shannon before you return home.
Another easy destination to reach from much of the U.S., Mexico also doesn't require passports to be valid past the duration of your stay.
Long-haul travel is an option with a passport that has a short validity if you head directly to these islands off the eastern coast of Southern Africa. You'll just need a passport valid for the duration of your stay (and plenty of sunscreen).
It's worth noting that there are several U.S. territories and commonwealth destinations where you won't need a passport at all to visit, including American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.