6 Months Validity Rule for Passports: Here’s What You Need to Know
Many of us know we need a passport to travel internationally. What you might not know is that your passport actually needs to be valid for months longer than you think. Many countries require 6 months of validity. Others require less. Here's what you need to know to make sure you don't get stuck at the airport before your next international trip.
What is the 6 months validity rule for passports?
Your passport should have at least six months of validity if you're traveling internationally. Many countries will deny you entry if your passport isn't valid for at least 6 months after your last day of travel. For example, if you’ve booked a getaway to Belize and plan to stay there until March 1, 2019, your passport cannot expire before September 1, 2019. The rule is a requirement of other countries accepting foreign travelers and not a requirement of the U.S. government, which is why many people aren't aware or simply forget. Countries enforce the rule because they don’t want to risk travelers and tourists overstaying their passport's validity. If you do overstay, you'll be hit with hefty fines and possible deportation. So, if your passport has less than six months until it expires, you should renew it right away!
Which countries require 6 months validity for passports?
There are more than 50 countries that require the 6-month validity. Each country makes its own rules, which can also change, so be sure you know ahead of time exactly what's required. Here is a list of the most common countries visited by U.S. tourists and travelers that require 6 months validity.
- Burma (Myanmar)
- Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
- Ecuador (including Galápagos Islands)
- French Polynesia
- Nicaragua (currently waived by bilateral agreement)
- Papua New Guinea
- Timor-Leste (East Timor)
For a complete list and more info, we recommend the U.S. Department of State website. Simply type in the country you’re traveling to and you'll see all of the requirements, including other passport info and any vaccination suggestions.
Exceptions to the 6 months validity rule for passports
Some countries are more relaxed about the 6-month validity passport rule. Canada and Mexico, for example, are the two most commonly traveled countries from the U.S. and require only 3 months validity to visit. Again, we recommend checking the U.S. Department of State website for your country's info. While you're there, you'll also see any important travel updates you should be aware of.
Will the current government shutdown affect getting my passport?
No. Despite the current government shutdown, essential services, like passport renewals, are still business as usual. This means you shouldn't have to worry about any abnormal delays. A typical passport renewal usually takes 4-6 weeks. We recommend starting the process at least 9 months ahead of time, to be safely ahead of the 6-month mark. If you need your passport in 2-3 weeks or sooner, there are expedited options that will cost an additional $60 and up.
Key passport rule takeaways
In a nutshell, if you don’t have enough validity on your passport, you’ll only make it as far as the airport. Hundreds of travelers are turned away every month because of this. Don't be one of them. Always have at least 6 months validity on your passport before traveling abroad and don't forget to check the latest updates on the country you're traveling to!
We know getting and renewing a passport can be time-consuming and confusing. We're happy to help! Our Passport Concierge service makes it fast, easy and secure to renew your passport in a hurry. Passport Concierge is available in California and coming to other states soon. If you need help with other government services like TSA PreCheck, registration renewal, Real ID appointments and more, we're in 20+ states and love helping people with government services!