Now that you’ve chosen your destination there’s no stopping you from day-dreaming your way through the work week about the imminent vacation bliss that is to be yours in just a few short months.
But take note, before you go packing three bathing suits because you can’t pick just one, now is the time to talk about the not-so-fun stuff that could ruin your entire vacation – or stop it from happening altogether.
In this article, I'll walk you through some passport requirements for international travel that you may not be aware of...
As an example, if your passport expires within six months of travel, you won’t be able to enter St. Lucia, Italy, Canada, and so many others. Additionally, if your passport expires within three months of your departure back to the U.S. from France, you won’t be able to leave the country at all. While getting stuck in France indefinitely and taking up a new life as a French fashion icon might sound fun, it might not work out so perfectly in reality. Passport restrictions are different depending on the destination you’re visiting, which is why you definitely need to be educated before you go.
So, what could really go wrong? You’re not a criminal and you have a certified passport, so whatever hiccup occurs could certainly be easily fixed. Not quite. Not adhering to a countries passport requirements could cost you quite a bit of money and in the worst-case scenario could result in you being detained in a foreign place, unable to return home until you can get a passport renewal expedited. It is your responsibility to know the regulations of the country you are traveling to. Otherwise, when you arrive you may learn some devastating news.
Also be aware of the layovers you may have in countries other than your destination, because you can be held accountable for that countries passport laws too, even if you don’t leave the airport. If one place requires three months to consider your passport valid, but your connecting flight requires six you could get stuck in limbo.
It's not just about the expiration date either, some countries have strict rules of how many blank passport pages you must still have to be considered valid. Do your research in advance to ensure you meet the requirements.
Unfortunately, when COVID-19 caused the passport office to close operations in March 2020, those typical turnaround times flew out the window. When the passport agencies started re-opening and processing applications again, they are operating in phases with limited offices and staff. Each location is under different phases of their re-opening plan, and the situation is being monitored closely as the fluidity of the situation continues to develop. Expedited services are still temporarily suspend except for cases involving life-or-death emergencies. Therefore, it’s a very important time to plan ahead – especially if you typically procrastinate these things.
Go check your passport expiration now to see if you should begin your application or renewal process sooner than later. Get a jump on your application to avoid disappointment in case your passport doesn’t arrive in time, making you miss out on your trip.
Lastly, as if the ins and outs of passport laws and customs weren’t overwhelming enough, you also need to have an understanding about the actual laws of the country you are visiting. For example, several countries place restrictions on entry towards people who have a criminal conviction – no matter how far in the past it might have been. Passengers without proper documentation, or that fail to meet destination requirements, can be denied boarding or entry at the international destination and you won’t be entitled to a refund or future credit. Do not pass “go”, do not collect $200. On top of how stressful that would be, you’d also still have to coordinate your flight home – and bear in mind, most of us tend to buy tickets that can only be used on the dates we purchased them for, so that new ticket home would have at your own expense.
It would be terrible to ruin the vacation you daydreamed about the past year by getting stuck in an outside country and having to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a new passport or unexpected travel costs, so take the measures not to make sure that doesn’t happen.
You can find out everything you need to know about the destination you’re visiting and its passport laws via The Department of State’s Passport Services website and by talking to your travel professional. You can also follow the updates of the passport offices and expedited services at the U.S. Passports Travel State Government site.
When you are ready to travel, let's chat! I can make sure you know the expectations for your trip and will walk you through any questions regarding your destination(s).
Schedule your free consultation to learn more about our services and how we can assist you with planning an unforgettable and stress-free vacation!
Stay positive, safe and hopeful!