I hope you have been enjoying the holiday season thus far. I can't believe this year is almost over!!
Recently, I have received a lot of questions regarding passports and travel requirements, and with the most recent event of a couple getting kicked off their cruise in South Korea for not having the proper documentation (which you can read the article online here) - I thought it was a good idea to address a few details regarding Passport Laws...
Now that you’ve chosen your destination there’s no stopping you from day-dreaming your way through the work week about the imminent travel bliss that will soon be yours. 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.
Before You Leave
Odds are, you already know that you need a passport to travel internationally and to reenter the United States. What you may not know, is that many countries have strict regulations on entering and exiting their country when your passport is close to its expiration date. As an example, if your passport expires within six months of travel, you won’t be able to enter St. Lucia, Italy, Canada, Mexico and many others. Additionally, if your passport expires within three months of your departure for 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, right? Not quite. Not adhering to a countries passport laws could cost you quite a lot 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 own 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 are also going to 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.
When you renew a passport or apply for a new one, a routine application can take up to six weeks to process – and that’s if there are no discrepancies or errors with your documentation. You can pay for “rush” processing, but the expedited fee isn’t cheap and you will still wait around three weeks, unless you pay even more and go through a third-party agency.
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. Passengers without proper documentation, or that fail to meet destination requirements, can be denied entry at the destination and 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 your well-deserved vacation by getting stuck in another country and having to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on unexpected additional travel costs, so take the measures 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.
Visa requirements are another process and should also be considered depending on the country you will be traveling. Before you make the travel plans, ensure you have enough time and will meet the requirements to obtain a Visa before your trip.
Take a tip from the above couple in the article who was kicked off their dream vacation, and hire a professional travel agent that will ensure you know before you go - don't let this happen to you on your next adventure!
Ready to explore the world? Call Destinations HD to discuss your travel plans and see how we can assist you! (913) 244-9195