Countries Requiring Six Months of Passport Validity
If you are traveling outside of the United States into any other country, you must carry with you a current and valid U.S. Passport to exit and re-enter the U.S. However, a lesser-known requirement for some countries around the world is that a passport must be valid for a certain number of months from the date of entry into that country, or a certain number of months after the passport holder leaves the country. Each country makes its own rules regarding this policy, and the rules sometimes change unexpectedly. This is often called the six month validity rule.
If you have a U.S. Passport, you can find the expiration date on the inside front cover, next to your photo. After that date passes, the U.S. passport will no longer be a valid document that allows you to leave the United States. Some countries, however, even refuse to allow entry to anyone holding passport that expires in less than three or six months. Airlines and cruise ships routinely deny boarding to any travelers without the correctly dated documents — including those whose passports expire too soon. Customs officials tend to be strict about these requirements — a passport with five months and three weeks of validity would be turned away from a country requiring a passport to be valid for six months after entry. As a general rule, travelers should always have at LEAST six months of validity remaining on their passport beyond the last day of their international trip.
Knowing the Rules
If you are planning a trip abroad, you should know the rules for entering the countries you want to visit. A good source of up-to-date information about passport validity is the U.S. Department of State’s travel website, which lists entry requirements by country. If you are traveling outside of the U.S., you should also visit the embassy websites of countries you want to visit. The following are examples of countries with six-month passport validity requirements, but this is not an exhaustive list and is subject to change:
Europe: All of the countries of the Schengen Agreement — 25 European countries, which is most but not all of them — require only three months’ validity after exiting the country. Note that the United Kingdom is not on this list; in the U.K.’s case, any valid passport is accepted with no minimums enforced. Policies among the European nations not in the Schengen Area vary quite a bit.
Asia: The six-month validity requirement is quite common on the Asian continent. Among other countries, Burma (Myanmar), China (including Hong Kong and Macau), Laos, Indonesia, and Malaysia require six months’ validity from the date of entry. India requires at least six months’ validity from the date a traveler applies for an Indian visa. Russia requires six months validity from the date of exit, and is known to be very strict about such matters. Middle Eastern nations vary in policy — Saudi Arabia is one that requires six-month validity. Israel is technically an exception to the rule; however, the U.S. State Department notes that “although a passport valid for six months from the date of entering Israel is not required by the Government of Israel, airlines routinely require this and may prevent boarding if a traveler does not have at least six months validity on their passport.”
The Americas: Canada and Mexico do not generally enforce the six-month rule, but many travelers have been turned away if they have less than 3 months validity. Belize and Honduras are the Central American countries that have consistently required six months of validity, and Nicaragua’s policies may all but require it depending on the length and nature of your stay. A number of South American countries also enforce the six-month rule, including Argentina, Paraguay, and Ecuador, which also includes the Galapagos Islands.
If you are traveling a trip outside of the United States, and you have any questions about how to get a new passport or renew an old one, obtain a new child’s passport or even add pages to your existing U.S. Passport, please call or visit any of our locations to chat live with a passport expert Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm EST.