Why Your Valid Passport Might Be “Expired” in Some Countries

Sometimes you aren't allowed on certain international flights, even though your passport is still valid and you already booked your seat. Here's why.

AnemStyle/shutterstockIf you’re traveling to a foreign country, you may be in for a big surprise at the airport. A little-known secret among airlines and international travel agencies may cost you thousands of dollars.

When boarding the plane for an international flight after going through airport security, you usually have to present your passport. You need to make sure it’s still valid, i.e. not past the expiration date, before you leave. But this isn’t enough in some countries, and you may not be allowed onto the flight you’ve already paid for.

In places like France, Spain, and Germany, your passport needs to be valid for at least another 90 days after you enter the country, even if you don’t plan on staying that long. Some countries have time limits all the way up to 6 months after your arrival.

The reason for this is in case of an unexpected situation where the traveler needs to stay in the country longer than originally planned. They will need a valid passport to leave the country, but they can only get it renewed back at home.

The issue gets more complicated if airlines let you board your flight without a “valid” passport in the destination country. In this case, you’ll get turned away at the gates and need to spend thousands of dollars on a flight back home, unless you can get the airline to cover it. Speaking on plane tickets, did you know the best day to buy them is no longer Tuesday?

This rule even applies in simple layover situations. For example, say you’re on your way to spend a week in Japan, which only requires your passport to be valid only for the duration of your intended period of travel, and your passport is valid for the next 70 days. If you have a stopover in Germany, you won’t be able to get to Japan because Germany will send you home. But, if you have a direct flight to Japan, you won’t have any problems. Looking for ways to make the most of your layover? Look no further.

The U.S. Department of State recommends that you renew your passport at least 9 months before its printed expiration date to avoid these kinds of issues. They also have a resource on their website that lets you check your destination country’s travel requirements.

There are also tools available online that check your passport’s validity in certain countries. Traveldoc is a site that airlines use themselves to double check their passengers’ information, and you can use it too! Enter where you’re going, what airport you’re departing from, and your passport expiration information. Traveldoc will let you know if you need to get your documents in order before you take off.

Here are a few other tips for making airport travel as easy as possible. Happy travels!

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