Amy of Smitten Honeymoons is writing a 3 part passport series. Click here to read the first part, titled Passport 101: I just renewed my passport, then my name changed. Now what? Click here to read the second part, called Passport 102: I lost my passport abroad. How do I get home?
Imagine embarking on your honeymoon and being told that you or your new spouse cannot board the plane because one of your passports is expired—even though the date printed on the document is still months away. It’s a scenario that can happen, and, when it does, creates immense confusion for travelers, not to mention crushing disappointment at having their honeymoon upended.
One of the most common questions surrounding such situations: How can a passport be expired prior to its expiration date? In short, countries set their own rules about passport validity. This means that even though yours may be legal in the United States, it might not be acceptable in all other destinations. For example:
• If you’re traveling to Indonesia, your passport must be valid for six months beyond your arrival date.
• A vacation to Italy requires your passport to not expire for at least six months after you leave.
• New Zealand expects your passport to remain current for three months from the day your plane carries you home.
• In Costa Rica, your passport’s compliance need only last the duration of your stay.
Every country expects visitors to be informed about its travel requirements, including the rules surrounding whether your passport is lawful abroad. With so many nuances between the different laws, it’s important to make sure nothing vital falls through the cracks.
To ensure you’re not surprised at the airport with daunting news about an invalid passport: Ask your honeymoon consultant about the requirements surrounding entry into the country or countries in which you’ll be honeymooning. She can compare your passport’s expiration date to the rules in your destination/s and provide guidance on any necessary steps you need to take to be compliant.
Renew your passport whenever it is set to expire within nine months. This timeframe respects the up to two-month processing time that it can take to renew a passport. It also guarantees that if you’re traveling abroad prior to receiving your new passport, you have a slight buffer before closing in on six or fewer months until your document expires and your new one arrives. Thus, no matter where you’re traveling, you will never have to worry about having an invalid passport. (Six months after your departure date is the longest validity requirement.)
To be safe, it’s best to adopt the nine-month rule regardless of your destination’s passport laws, even if you are traveling to a country that only requires your document to be current during your trip. In the unlikely event that something happens while you’re abroad and prevents you from returning home before your document’s expiration date—a natural disaster, illness, etc.—the last thing you’ll want to be doing at that time is scrambling to obtain a new passport amid whatever is keeping you in the country.
photo 1 // Jenna Walker Photography