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My passport expires in 6 months – what do I do?

edited July 2009 in World Wide
All you ever wanted to know about passport expiration dates

Bad news: You’ve booked the flight, you’re ready to roll… and you notice your passport expires in less than 6 months.

Does that mean you will get through immigration, or be sent back on the next flight? Or does immigration not care, provided the passport is still valid?

The answer is that it all depends on your passport, and your destination:

Some countries have a strict 6-month validity rule in place. If your passport expires within 6 months of your date of arrival you will be turned away at immigration, if not before at your departure airport. These include: Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, UAE, Brazil, Ecuador, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Paraguay, Tunisia, Romania, Singapore and surprisingly, Belgium.

Other countries enforce a 3-month rule. These include: Cambodia, Denmark, Fiji, Switzerland, South Africa, New Zealand, Croatia and Estonia

Many countries however require only a valid passport for the duration of your stay. Among these are: Kenya, Tanzania, France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, Malta, UK and USA.

There are some exceptions: EU citizens only ever need a valid passport, regardless of date, to travel in other EU countries. US citizens need only a driving license or valid passport to enter Canada, Mexico, Bahamas and any US overseas territories such as Puerto Rico.

For any other nationalities: rather than risk travelling with a passport that will expire in 6 months or less, you are strongly advised to get your passport renewed or get an emergency passport before travel.

Last-minute passport renewals
It is generally possible to get an emergency passport issued within two weeks or less, although it will cost you. In the US this is called an expedited renewal. Brian Clucas of VisaHQ says that “a regular application can be processed within 4-6 days while expedited passport applications generally can be obtained within 2-3 days.”

Clucas reminds applicants that “if you posses a current passport that has, or will soon expire this will help - as opposed to a lost, or mutilated passport. In addition, applying for a replacement passport during holiday or high travel seasons, such as summer may cause a delay in the processing.”

Children and passports
Different rules apply to children when renewing passports. Kestutis Gregeris of TravelVisaPro says that “there is no renewal service for minors (children under 16). They must follow first time passport procedure until they turn 16. Another important problem is that passports for children are valid only for 5 years, whereas passport for adults are good for 10 years.” Gregeris has encountered more than one situation where parents did not realize that their passport is valid for more time than their children’s – and the trip never got past the departure airport.

One should also remember that US citizens must have a valid passport regardless of age. Even new born babies must have their own passport – kids cannot travel on their parents passport. Check with your consulate to see if similar rules apply to your nationality.

Name changes and passports
Gregeris says that at TravelVisaPro their staff frequently find that people who get married or divorced, and change their name, forget to change the name on a valid passport. They then book a ticket under their new name, but their passport is still under the old name.” The result is that the passenger will be unable to fly. Gregeris advises that “if your passport is valid for long time, book the ticket under your old name as it appears on the passport. In this case, you can use that passport until it expires and save some money.”

Finally, should you apply yourself or use an agency for this purpose?

It comes down to time and money – and how much of each you have available. If you are prepared to complete your own forms, physically go to the passport renewal office and queue, then doing it yourself will save you money. However, if you’re in a rush, or don’t have the time or patience, then using a reputable visa agency might be the way to go.

Brian Clucas of VisaHQ says that overall “using a passport expediting service can certainly have its benefits. The agent handling your application will be aware of things to look out for and will be able to help organize your information and documentation accordingly. In addition, their experience and familiarity with the entire process is much like having an “expert” on your side. They can also ensure that expedited applications are processed in a timely fashion, which is critical when travel plans leave no time for anything left to chance. Such services are often worthwhile just for the peace of mind they deliver.”

Kestutis Gregeris of TravelVisaPro says that if travellers use agencies they must ensure passport replacement insurance is offered. “If you misplace your passport or it gets lost in the mail, we will replace the passport free of our service charges. This provides extra insurance and safety when people mail us their documents.”

Some other important points to note:
• Even when a country’s published rules state otherwise, you may encounter problems from uninformed immigration or airline officials when your passport has less than 6 months left to run.
• Many tour package operators won’t even take a booking unless you have 6 months validity remaining on your passport.
• Several accounts suggest that many countries won't issue you a visa in advance of travel if there is less than six months to go on your passport.
• Most Arab or Middle Eastern countries will refuse entry to you if you have an Israeli stamp in your passport. Apply for a new one if this is the case. Gregeris advises: “Get a second passport and use one to travel to Arab countries and one to Israel. Remember however that second passports are valid only for two years.”
• Passports must have sufficient blank pages in – if yours is full you can apply to have new pages inserted.
For more information see:

Useful links:

• – country Visa pages
• TravelVisaPro – Visa service
• – passport requirements for UK travellers


  • Great information. One item I disagree with, though, with regard to the 6-month validity rule. The passport must be good for at least six months after the passenger's return. You still have to return to your own country and need a valid passport to do so.
  • edited 9:02AM
    Hi David,

    I've been searching everywhere for this answer!! Driving me NUTS! So just to double check here: I am a US citizen with a passport that expires on Dec. 14 2009. I want to go to London this Thursday (Monday now) so what you're saying is I'll be ok? I lknow I could do expedited at an office and was planning to tomorrow, but I haven't gotten my tickets yet (have a flight attendant friend thats going to help me get cheap tickets tomorrow. But I'm all freaked about purchasing them and then finding out I'm f'd on the passport that even with expedited service it'll take too long. Also would like to avoid paying $160 right especially if I can renew later the regular way for less.

    Thanks for you help!
  • edited 9:02AM
    UK traveller - you will be ok with your current passport.
  • edited 9:02AM
    Hi David. Could you tell me how you are sure about the 6 month validity rule regarding the UK? I am traveling to London next Friday and just found out about this 6 month validity rule. My passport expires in September but is valid for the 1 week I am in London. We are totally distressed about this, have been on the phone to different agencies, embassys, etc. and have not gotten a straight answer. Our travel agent never even asked us about our passports. Different travel guides tell you different things. I just got a return email from Worldbridge services that is connected to the UK Border agency and they say I DO have to have 6 months left on my passport in order to enter the UK. Travel agent (whom I do not trust now) said he talked to the British Embassy and they said I would be fine. I have an appointment for an expedited passport 3 days before I leave but if something screws up...Any info you would have would be appreciated.
  • edited 9:02AM
    Patti - my information is based on research and has been vetted by experts at and

    I cannot put my life on line with this but according to all the facts you will be absolutely fine.

    The requirement is that "Passport and/or passport replacing documents must be valid
    for the period of intended stay."

    Check further with this useful visa tool, versions of which are used by all the travel agents and arilines:
  • edited 9:02AM
    Hey DavidF. I am an 19 year old south african that has an 2 year working holday visa and it expires in march i would like to extend it but i dont know if it is possible and if it his how do i go about doing it. I am hopeing to return to UK this december but im really scared that it wont be possible and then i would have to return end Feb. Can you please help? I have worked in Scotland 4 9 months and returned to SA in January to studie. Will be done in Nov and really want to return to UK.
  • edited 9:02AM
    Hi David...
    I am a malaysian passport holder and now living in france.
    my passport will be expired 23 december 2009. now i am still waiting for my new passport which is it supposed to be arrive to paris today. it's really take long time to get the new one, since all the renewal process is in london.
    the bad news is that, i 'd bought a flight ticket to istanbul and the departing date is to soon, on this coming thursday!
    my questions is that, it is possible to me to enter turkey by using less than 6 months expired passport? my go/retrun tickets is 13 aug and 28 aug 2009!

    thank you
  • edited 9:02AM
    Hello - another passport query for you. I am an American passport holder, but live in the UK and have an indefinite leave to remain visa to live in the UK. I am travelling to the US in September, and my US passport expires in October. I return to the UK before it expires, but do you think this will be a problem? Thanks in advance.
  • edited 9:02AM
    angel - the working visa cannot be renewed, make the most of it because when it ends you cannot work legaly in the UK.
  • edited 9:02AM
    Rin and Michelle - your questions are answered in the initial post. Rin - I do not advise you to travel with your current passport as it has less than 3 months to run; Michelle, you should be fine.
  • edited 9:02AM
    Hello, David,
    I bought a ticket to Peru last night without checking my passport. I live in the US with a green card, but my Chinese passport will be expired on Feb 23rd , 2009. I am supposed to leave on Aug 30th with a passport valid for 5 months 25days and come back on Sept 10th with a passport valid for 5 months 13 days. Now I am debating should I go ahead apply visa to Peru or cancle my ticket.
    What is rule for Chinese/US permanent resident to entering Peru? or do you know if any firm can help me get a new Chinese passport and get visa to Peru before I leave? I checked that I would not have problem come back to the US. Thanks so much

  • edited 9:02AM
    Hi, David:
    It is me again- I had a typo, my passport valid till Feb 23, 2010.
  • edited 9:02AM
    hi david, how are u? i'm gonna go travel to hongkong from sept 20th - oct 3rd, and my indonesian pasport will be expired on feb 28th 2010. i tried to renew it this month which means august but the indonesian consulat in us said i cant renew it coz it still valid and i can start renew it at least next month on sept and it'll take 1 month process but i have to leave on sept 20th. so i was wondering do you think it'll be ok if i just use my current pasport to hongkong ? right now i live in usa (i'm usa green card holder) is it gonna be a problem when i got back from hk to usa? thank you so much for ur help, really appreciate it.
  • edited 9:02AM
    Hi, David:

    I am a US passport holder. I just came back from my European trip this Wendesday and unfortunately, my passport was stolen in Geneve and I had to get a temporary US passport there, it is only valid for three months. However, I need to go to Singapore next Friday (Aug. 21) for a bussiness trip for only 5 days. Do you think I could get around with this temporary passport or I really need to apply a new one within this less than a week timeframe?
    Thanks a lot for the answer.
  • edited 9:02AM
    I am a U.S. Citizen with a passport that expires August 31, 2009, traveling to Honduras
    My flight leaves to Honduras on August 22, 2009
    and my returning flight is on August 29, 2009

    Will I encounter a problem?
  • edited 9:02AM
    I am travelling on my US passport to the UK in October for 2 weeks for my son's wedding. I just realised my passport expires January 2010. I too cannot get an answer about whether the 6-month rule applies to the UK. It seems from this blog that I will be OK.
  • edited 9:02AM
    Hello David -

    You seem to have opened the floodgates with this topic !!

    I would be really grateful if you could find a moment to answer this, though.

    Specifically in terms of travel to Kenya - you say above that Kenya operates a 'passport must be valid whilst you are here' policy. However - my girlfriend (who is Dutch) and I (English), are travelling to Kenya on August 25th... and she has been advised that our passports need to be valid for 6 months after our return (neither of ours are.. both expire Feb 2010).

    Needless to say, this is causing a LOT of stress and worry - can you please reiterate / confirm your point re the Kenyan requirement ?

    Also - without any wish whatsoever to doubt your authority - how sure are you of this point ? Not being funny but.. there are LOTS of websites which contradict each other - some say 'must be valid for 6 months', others say 'must only be valid for your stay'... I would LOVE for you to be right !! :-)

    Thanks David - keep up the good work..

    Kind Regards,

    Chris & Jolande
  • RE: jklui2002

    A U.S. passport valid for at least three months from the date of entry is required to enter Honduras. Therefore, you must renew your passport. Please contact me for instructions on how to make it happen before august 22.

  • Re: Michelle

    UK does not require a strict expiration of passport rules per se, but I recommend to renew your passport before you return to UK and re-obtain visa to new passport.

  • re: Leigh - visa to peru for China citizen.

    Dear Leigh, you must secure visa before you go to Peru. You will be ok with your current expiration date: Please do not hesitate to email me with questions for Peru visa.
  • Re: Lu - US traveling to Singapore

    I do not want to tell you bad news, but you must renew your passport or obtain new one in US embassy abroad. According to US DEPT OF STATE: A valid passport is required. U.S. citizens do not need a visa if their visit is for business or social purposes, and their stay is for 90 days or less. Travelers to the region should note that Singapore and some neighboring countries do not allow Americans to enter with fewer than six months of validity remaining on their passport.

    If you need help with passport, please let me know.

  • Dear Chris and Jolande,

    I am glad you decided to visit African safari. Let me help you with red tape. I am quoting you a US DEPT of STATE website ( According to them, you must have your passport valid 6 months after you leave the country: "Travelers to Kenya and neighboring African countries should ensure that the validity of their passports is at least six months beyond the end of their intended stay, and that their passport contains sufficient blank pages for visas and immigration stamps."

    If you need help with renewal of your passports, please do not hesitate to email me or visit our website

  • edited 9:02AM
    Hi, I am a Canadian citizen with a valid passport that expires on Oct 7, 2009. I have a flight booked to the Dominican Republic on Aug 28, 2009 and I will be returning Sept 4, 2009.

    Since my passport expires less than 3 months before my travel, am I okay to travel? Or do I need to get a emergency passport?
  • KrisO,

    I recommend to renew your passport since it is less than 3 months between departure from Dominican Republic and your passport expiration date.

  • edited 9:02AM
    Hi, i have a valid US passport which expires in mid-Nov. 2009. i'm going to France and Italy on Sept. 9, 2009. am i ok with the passport i have? i'd like to renew it in Oct. sometime, but i'm getting mixed reports from everybody.

    Thanks so much.
  • edited 9:02AM
    hi.. i'm gonna go travel to hongkong from sept 20th - oct 3rd, and my indonesian pasport will be expired on feb 28th 2010. i tried to renew it this month which means august but the indonesian consulat in us said i cant renew it coz it still valid and i can start renew it at least next month on sept and it'll take 1 month process but i have to leave on sept 20th. so i was wondering do you think it'll be ok if i just use my current pasport to hongkong ? right now i live in usa (i'm usa green card holder) is it gonna be a problem when i got back from hk to usa? thank you so much for ur help, really appreciate it.
  • edited 9:02AM
    I'm going to the USA in October with a fiance visa from Turkey. My passport will expire in May 2010. If, in any case of emergency, I want to travel to Turkey after May, will I have a problem ? Or shall I renew my passport now ?
  • Re: banuay:
    Turkey has a strict policy about 6 months validity. Your passport must be good for 6 months after exit from Turkey. So, if you want to go there in Jan 2010, you passport must be good at least until July 2010. Please renew your passport at your earliest convenience. You can do it right now and you can use budget option: $135 + 39. Please mention TVP-10 code to claim $10 off. If any questions, please let me know.
    Sincerely, Kestutis
  • edited 9:02AM
    I am a South African living in the UK with a residents permit I have booked my flight to South Africa to attend my brothers wedding leaving the UK on the 15/09/09 and have just realised my passport expired a week ago, is there anything I can do.
  • edited 9:02AM
    Kenny - you are in kak. Go to the SA consulate and apply for an emergency passport. I would be very wary though of trying to re-enter the UK on a temporary passport. Clarify your plans with the UK Home office to make sure you have no hassles on your return.
  • edited 9:02AM
    PLEASE DAVID, ARE YOU SAYING I WONT BE ABLE TO GET VISA FOR UK? What can you tell me in regard to geting a visa for Serbia? or Serbian residents getting SA visa's?
  • edited 9:02AM
    Angel - from your earlier post, your work visa is expiring and cannot be renewed. To renter the UK you will need a regular visa I believe. I really recommend that you visit the Home Office in the UK and get official advice on your status.
  • edited 9:02AM
    I have a valid European Union passport that expires in February 2010, will I be able to travel to Jamaica this October, 2009? I am a landed immigrant in Canada.
  • edited 9:02AM
    My sister will come to visit me in USA, from December 10th, 2009 to January 10th, 2010. She has a Romanian passport that expires in June 30, 2010. Do you think this will me OK?
  • Re Amalia:
    I am not 100% sure, but i think it must be 6 months between entry and passport expiration for visitors to USA. If you want to find out for sure, please visit - us department of state website. If any quesitons, please let me know.
  • edited 9:02AM
    Hi there,

    I've been desperately searching for answers related to passports, and wondering if you could help me.
    I have a Canadian passport that expires on February 3 2010, but also have a work permit from the UK that expires in May 2010. I'm planning on going back to Canada for a three month visit at the end of October 2009, and am returning on February 2nd 2010. Will I be allowed into Canada? Will I be allowed to enter the UK at my return? Can I apply for a passport from Canada-since I was born there, but have been living in the UK for almost 5 years, or should I hold off from visiting and renew my passport here?

    Thank you.
  • edited 9:02AM
    I have booked a flight for October with Malaysian Airlines to go to Australia for 2 weeks and my passport runs out in January 2010. I have checked with Aus Embassy and they don't have 6 month rule. I have a Residents Return Visa for Aus as well. My question is will I have to have at least 6 months on my passport to fly with Malaysian Airways?
    Hope you can help
    Thank you
  • edited 9:02AM
    Hi. I'm a South African Citizen but my fiancee is British and she is pregnant, were both under 21 so we cannot get marriage visas. What are we to do? Please help.

  • edited 9:02AM

    Myself and my 2 children have british passports and we are flying from dublin to barcelona in november to go on a cruise visiting italy, and france for 7 days. The childrens passports expire in jan 2010, will they be ok to travel or is it a possibility they could be refused entry. Please help

  • edited 9:02AM
    Hi David, I'm so glad I found you because the US embassy is telling me to contact the airline and the airline is telling me to contact the US embassy but no one seems to have a straight answer for me.

    My children and I are US citizens living abroad. We are planning to fly from Greece to the US on December 12th. My children's passports expire on December 16th but I am planning on having them renewed the minute I get to New York. Since they are US passports ready to expire inside the US, does this mean imigration won't have a problem? We're living on an island in Greece and we'd have to fly to Athens 10 days before the flight to get the passports so it would be a major hassle and expense that I would like to avoid. Thank you so much for your help in this matter.
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