Renew Early: Passports Expiring Within Six Months May Disrupt Travel

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
September 5, 2014

Many international travelers may not realize that having an unexpired passport is sometimes not enough to enter certain foreign countries. U.S. citizens traveling on passports that expire in fewer than six months have increasingly been denied airline boarding or been detained upon arrival in certain foreign destinations, including popular European travel destinations in the Schengen area. This is not a new requirement, but it is only recently that the requirement has been more strictly enforced.

U.S. passport holders who will have less than six months validity on their passport for upcoming international travel through the end of 2015 should consider renewing their passports now, so they can avoid delays due to increased passport demand in the weeks before Thanksgiving and at peak times throughout the year. It is especially important to check the passports of any minors who may be traveling. Passports for minors have a shorter validity period (5 years) than passports for adults (10 years) and thus may expire sooner.

The Bureau of Consular Affairs has updated its Schengen Fact Sheet on The 26 European countries comprising the Schengen area require that U.S. passports are valid for at least 90 days beyond the traveler’s intended date of departure for visa-free short-term tourism, business trips, or transit. Adherence varies from country to country. Some Schengen countries assume all travelers will stay the full three months allowed for visa-free visitors, meaning a visitor may not be admitted unless his/her passport is valid for at least six months, regardless of the duration of the stay. This requirement may also apply if a traveler is transiting a Schengen airport for several hours en route to a non-Schengen destination.

For all other destinations worldwide, the U.S. Department of State recommends that those traveling ensure that their passport has at least six months of validity beyond their dates of international travel to avoid unintended disruptions. Passport validity requirements for destination countries, along with other important information, can be found on our Country Specific Information pages at

To avoid uncertainty and ensure that travel plans are not disrupted, travelers should plan ahead to renew their passport before traveling. Visit our passport website for more information on applying for a new or renewal passport.

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