When Is an Expiration Date Not an Expiration Date? When It’s Your Passport.

Is my family the only one who didn’t know about this?

We are getting ready to travel to Singapore, and one of the first things we did was to check our passports.

The earliest expiration date showing on the three passports was August of 2020. Since we would be returning sometime in March of 2020, we assumed everything was in order.

But then through sheer luck, I was sitting at a presentation and someone mentioned that to travel to Singapore your passport needs to expire at least six months beyond your travel dates.

Wait. What was that?

I double-checked my passport, and I saw absolutely no mention of this policy. I then checked the U.S.Department of State web site, and this is what I found:

Some countries require that your passport be valid at least six months beyond the dates of your trip. Some airlines will not allow you to board if this requirement is not met.  Consider the following scenario: A country requires that you have at least six months of validity on your passport. You currently have seven months of validity on your passport.  However, your trip is two months from now. At that point, you will only have five months of validity remaining on your passport which is not enough to satisfy that country’s entry requirements. In this situation, you would need to renew your passport before you can make your trip.

How is a person supposed to know this? I think any reasonable person would assume the expiration date assumes that you can’t travel after that date, but that you are able to travel before that date.

Well, apparently that is not the case.

You could show up at an airport ready to travel overseas, thinking that you have a perfectly valid passport, and be banned from boarding the aircraft if you do not meet the six-month requirement.

According to the web site Fastport Passport, this six-month rule is not a requirement of the U.S. government. The six-month validity passport rule is a requirement of other countries accepting foreign travelers. The six- month passport validity rule is enforced because nations do not want to risk having travelers and tourists overstaying their passport validity.

While the rule makes no sense to me, an even bigger issue is the lack of information provided.

It seems like an easy fix would be to put an asterisk next to the expiration date, with a simple explanation of the six-month requirement. Then when someone goes to check if their passport is still valid, they will be aware of the rule and act accordingly.

We got lucky. But I’m guessing other people have not been so lucky.

And I can imagine their anger when they find out about the requirement too late.

Shame on the Department of State for not being more proactive about making travelers aware of this rule.

I hope I have at least saved the three people who read my blog from this potential travel disaster.

*image from USPS web site

25 thoughts on “When Is an Expiration Date Not an Expiration Date? When It’s Your Passport.

    1. that is a good suggestion about the airline playing a part in this as well. Since I haven’t bought my ticket yet, maybe I’ll find out that they do. Then this blog post will be just one more example of me spouting off about something I don’t know, and then finding out later on that I was wrong…

  1. I didn’t know that.
    I don’t know if it’s mentioned anywhere on the UK government website, but I’m not in the habit of going there unless I have to. Seems to me the airlines should be obliged to flag it up when you buy your ticket to such countries

    1. that’s a great idea, Cathy – have some sort of warning pop up when you buy your airline ticket. anything would be better than what is in place now – which is nothing…

  2. That does seem to be an important bit of information that our government should make an effort to ensure people know beforehand. Thank goodness you figured it out before your trip! Thanks for sharing this tidbit!

      1. and by the way, it seems like comments I post on your site are not showing up – perhaps they found their way into spam? (given the quality of my comments, that would make sense…).

  3. I will be traveling out of the country next month, when I applied for my visa it stated the 6 month rule on the requirements for the country I am visiting. It’s always important to be proactive, especially when visiting another country. Most importantly enjoy your trip to Singapore. I heard they have one of the best airports in the world

  4. thanks, LaShawn! That’s good to know that there may be a mechanism in place when it comes to the visa process. But I’m not sure if every country that has the six-month requirement also has a visa requirement. We are looking forward to our trip – and happy travels to you as well!

  5. These are the hazards of travel and I’ve been caught out in weird traps too. I applied for an Australian Visa, then our trip was postponed. I later reapplied for the dates we would actually travel and I got a phone call from the Australian Embassy demanding why I hadn’t used the first visa and would I actually use the one I now applied for? I guess they thought I had a black market peddling visas. But there was no advice that a visa had to be used. What if someone gets sick etc.

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