Passport Expiration Date: What are the Rules to Travel?
In a simple world, you’d be able to travel and stay abroad until you reach your passport expiration date.
But this isn’t a simple world.
You could be refused entry to a country even if your passport is valid and will still be valid by the end of your stay. That’s because a non-expired passport is not synonymous with passport validity.
So before getting ready with our travel packing checklist, you might want to look at your passport expiration date carefully and check the passport expiration rules of the country you’re heading to.
This guide contains everything you need to know about the validity of your precious travel document, including:
- Where to find the expiration date of your passport
- How to know if you can travel, considering this date of expiry
- When you should apply for passport renewal
How to Check Your Passport Expiration Date
Where is the expiry date on a passport?
Finding the expiration date on a passport is usually straightforward. It’s located on the data page, which is the first page of most passports.
On this page, you will also see the traveller’s picture, personal details such as nationality and date of birth.
More importantly in this situation, this page contains the date of issue and the date of expiration of your passport. It should be located on the bottom-right corner, next to the photograph.
As a rule of thumb, a passport is no longer valid 10 or 15 years after it was issued. BUT keep reading to know why you should take your passport expiration date with a grain of salt.
Can I check my passport expiration online?
This kind of personal service is not available in every country. You should check your country’s passport website to know if you can check your passport expiration date online.
However, to do so, you’ll need your passport number, which is indicated… on your passport. If you have your passport with you, there’s no need to check its expiration date online, since it’s already indicated on the first page!
The only reasons why you’d want to check this online is if this particular information has for some reason become illisible on the page or if you’ve lost your passport. In both cases, the validity of your passport is compromised and you must renew your passport ASAP.
Passport Expiration Rules: How Close to Passport Expiration Can I Travel?
As mentioned several times already, there is more to passport expiration than the date indicated on your passport. Each country has their own passport expiration rules and entry requirements.
What is the Six Months Rule for passports?
Perhaps the most common of those rules is the “Six Months Rules”, named so because the countries that enforce this rule require that your passport be valid 6 months past your travel date.
Well, passport expiration date is not the only thing that authorities take into account when considering your right to entry in their country: they also look at the duration of your stay.
Most countries let you stay for up to 3 months without a visa. That’s why they require at least 3 months validity on your passport past your departure date.
But a few countries, including in Europe, have expanded the passport validity requirement to 6 months. Those include:
- Burma (Myanmar)
- Costa Rica
- Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
- Czech Republic
- Ecuador (including Galápagos Islands)
- French Polynesia
- Papua New Guinea
- St. Lucia
- Timor-Leste (East Timor)
- Trinidad & Tobago
- United Arab Emirates
Can you travel with a passport that expires in 2 months?
It depends where you’re travelling to and from, but in general, it’s best to have a buffer of at least 6 months.
That being said, if you forgot to pay attention to the soon expiration of your passport, you may still have a chance to be allowed in the country if you have proof of your return date. For example, if you booked a return flight, it would help to show the immigration agent that you are indeed planning on leaving the country before your passport expires.
Similarly, if you can prove that you already have a booked appointment to renew your passport, they may let you in.
Can you travel with an expired passport?
If you’re travelling internationally, not a chance. A soon-to-expire passport is already going to put your trip in jeopardy – an expired one offers virtually no chance of safe departure.
Follow the guidelines formulated by the Department of State and local authorities in your country of destination to renew your passport before your trip, whether it is expired or about to.
You do NOT want to leave the decision to let you in up to border control.
Can you book a flight with an expired passport?
Yes, because the airline doesn’t request a passport at the time of booking.
However, you’ll hit a wall when you have to check-in for your flight: whether you’re checking in online or at the airport, for international travel, the airline will request your passport details, including its expiration date.
Should your passport be expired, you won’t even be able to check-in. Don’t even think about lying about it: you’d only be postponing the inevitable and be denied boarding at the airport. And you won’t get a denied boarding compensation for that.
By the way, you won’t be allowed on a domestic flight with an expired passport either. Once it’s expired, the travel document is invalid.
Bottom line: you can’t take the plane with an expired passport. You need a new passport.
Passport Expiration Renewal: How Close to Expiration Can a Passport be Renewed?
As a rule of thumb, valid passports should be renewed about 8 months prior to expiration.
Why? Because it takes on average 2 months for passport applications to be processed. Since you want to always have a 6 months buffer to travel with some peace of mind (see Six Months Rule above), consider starting the passport renewal process 8 months before your passport expires.
What to do if I realize that my passport is about to expire at the last minute?
It depends on exactly how late this realization occurs. Most national authorities enable passport holders to renew their travel document fast by setting up emergency procedures for this kind of situation.
As you might expect, it will cost you more than the regular replacement of your passport.
How to renew an expired passport?
We have a step-by-step guide on precisely how to renew an expired passport.
You can do so either online, by mail, or in person. Our guide provides information on all these options, as well as the documents you’ll need to provide, including a valid passport photo.
Note that this is also valid if you’ve lost your passport.
What to do with your expired passport?
Even after receiving your new, valid passport, you want to be careful with that old, expired one.
First, know that even expired, your passport may serve as a proof of citizenship in most countries.
Then, and perhaps most importantly, your old passport may still contain valid visas. If that’s a case, when travelling, make sure that you carry both the valid passport and the expired one with this visa stamp.
Now, if your old expired passport no longer holds any value, don’t simply go ahead and put it in the trash. To dispose of your passport, shred or burn it first. This will prevent ill-intentioned people from making fraudulent use of it.
Passport Valid Check: How long is a passport valid?
How long is a passport valid in the US?
In the US, adult passports are valid for 10 years starting from the date of delivery, while a child passport expires after 5 years.
How long is a passport valid in the UK?
Similarly to the US, UK passports are valid for a period of 10 years if you were aged 16 or more at the time of delivery, and only 5 years if you were 15 or less.
Is my passport valid after Brexit?
UK passport holders will still be able to travel to Europe despite the No Deal Brexit. At least until the end of 2020, they’ll be allowed to use the “EU passport” lines at border control. However, UK passports must be valid during the entirety of their trip.
After the end of the year, Brits will need to conform with the Six Months Rule that is enforced in the Schengen Area countries, just like all other non-EU countries.
On the bright side, flight compensation rules after Brexit should remain the same.
How long is a passport valid in each country?
Below, you will find an extensive list of countries and how long a passport is valid for them.
One more thing to keep in mind, though: when travelling to specific destinations, not only should your passport not be expired or have at least six months before it does; it should also have several blank pages. That’s to allow for a visa to be printed.
So make sure that you have enough free pages to accommodate a stamp from the entry and exit immigration.
Passport validity in Africa
ALGERIA: 10 years
BENIN: 6 years
EGYPT: 7 years
ERITREA: 5 years
ETHIOPIA: 5 years
GHANA: 10 years
KENYA: 10 years
LIBYA: 10 years
MOROCCO: 5 years
NAMIBIA: 5 years
SENEGAL: 5 years
SOUTH AFRICA: 10 years
SUDAN: 5 years
TANZANIA: 10 years
TOGOLESE: 5 years
TUNISIA: 5 years
UGANDA: 10 years
Passport validity in Asia
AFGHANISTAN: 5 years
ARMENIA: 10 years
AZERBAIJAN: 10 years
BAHRAIN: 10 years
BANGLADESH: 10 years
BRUNEI: 5 years
CAMBODIA: 10 years
CHINA: 10 years
CYPRUS: 10 years
HONG KONG: 10 years
INDIA: 10 years
INDONESIA: 5 years
IRAN: 5 years
IRAQ: 8 years
ISRAEL: 5 or 10 years
JAPAN: 5 or 10 years
KAZAKHSTAN: 10 years
KUWAIT: 5 or 10 years
LAOS: 10 years
LEBANON: 5 or 10 years
MACAO: 10 years
MALAYSIA: 5 years
MALDIVES: 5 years
NEPAL: 10 years
PAKISTAN: 5 or 10 years
THE PHILIPPINES: 10 years
SAUDI ARABIA: 10 years
SINGAPORE: 5 years
SOUTH KOREA: 10 years
SRI LANKA: 10 years
TAIWAN: 5 or 10 years
TUNISIA: 5 years
THAILAND: 5 years
TURKEY: 10 years
VIETNAM: 10 years
YEMENI: 6 years
Passport validity in Europe
ALBANIA: 10 years
ANDORRA: 10 years
AUSTRIA: 10 years
BELARUS: 10 years
BELGIUM: 10 years
BULGARIA: 5 or 10 years
CROATIA: 6 or 10 years
CZECH REPUBLIC: 10 years
CYPRUS: 10 years
DENMARK: 10 years
ESTONIA: 10 years
FINLAND: 5 years
FRANCE: 5 years
GERMANY: 10 years
GREECE: 5 years
GUERNSEY: 10 years
HUNGARY: 10 years
ICELAND: 10 years
IRELAND: 10 years
ITALY: 10 years
LATVIA: 10 years
LIECHTENSTEIN: 10 years
LITHUANIA: 10 years
LUXEMBOURG: 5 years
MALTA: 10 years
MOLDOVA: 10 years
NETHERLANDS: 10 years
NORTH MACEDONIA: 10 years
NORWAY: 10 years
POLAND: 10 years
PORTUGAL: 5 years
ROMANIA: 10 years
RUSSIA: 10 years
SERBIA: 10 years
SLOVAKIA: 10 years
SPAIN: 10 years
SWITZERLAND: 10 years
UKRAINE: 10 years
UNITED KINGDOM: 10 years
Passport validity in North and Central America
ANGUILLA: 10 years
ANTIGUA & BARBUDA: 10 years
BARBADOS: 10 years
CANADA: 5 or 10 years
CAYMAN ISLANDS: 10 years
COSTA RICA: 6 years
CUBA: 6 years
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: 6 or 10 years
GRENADA: 5 years
JAMAICA: 5 or 10 years
MEXICO: 1 3, 6 or 10 years
PANAMA: 5 years
ST.KITTS AND NEVIS: 10 years
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO: 10 years
UNITED STATES: 10 years
Passport validity in South America
ARGENTINA: 10 years
BRAZIL: 10 years
CHILE: 5 years
COLOMBIA: 10 years
ECUADOR: 6 years
COSTA RICA: 6 years
GUYANA: 5 years
PERU: 2 or 5 years
URUGUAY: 10 years
VENEZUELA: 5 years
Passport validity in Oceania
AUSTRALIA: 10 years
NEW ZEALAND: 10 years
PAPUA NEW GUINEA: 5 years
TONGA: 10 years
TUVALUAN: 5 years
Thomas is a Passenger Rights and Flight Compensation expert. Frequent traveller, he loves sharing tips and news to help people make the most of travel.
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How long can you stay in Europe with a US passport?
Shorter jaunts to Europe are nothing to sniff at, but what about when you’d like to stay a little longer than a couple of weeks? Have you ever dreamed of taking a few months or even a year off to travel around Europe? Maybe you’ve finally saved up your money and vacation time, and you’re ready for a once-in-a-lifetime jaunt across Europe.
There’s just one big question: Exactly how long can you stay in Europe with a US passport?
Here’s the short answer: It depends. It depends on where you want to go and what you want to do while you’re there.
For the longer answer, read on to see how you can take a long-term trip to Europe.
How long can you stay in Europe with a US Passport?
Most Americans take off to Europe for a week or two for a typical vacation. But sometimes that just isn’t enough time to really enjoy your stay. Spain, Italy, France… these are all places where you could spend months exploring and still need more time.
But how long do the rules allow you stay? We have your answers below.
Schengen countries (in blue) are among the most popular in Europe for tourists. (Yellow countries are members of the EU that have not yet joined Schengen.) Map: Wikimedia
Understanding the Basics of Visitor Visas in Europe
Europe can be divided into three basic categories for American travelers:
1. Schengen Countries
2. United Kingdom
3. Non-Schengen countries
Each of these groups of countries has their own rules. Here is a quick rundown of each region and the different rules that apply.
The list of Schengen countries in Europe includes the following 26 countries:
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Of the 26 countries in the Schengen Zone, 22 are members of the European Union.
American travelers (along with Aussies, Canadians, and Kiwis) can stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa. For example, you can travel to France and stay for 30 days, go back home for 60 days, come back and gallivant around Italy for 60 days, then go home for a month and start the cycle all over again.
First, the bad news
If you overstay your limit, you’re subject to a fine and deportation and potentially being banned from future travel in Schengen countries. Northern European countries are notoriously strict on this, while the South and East are known to be a little more flexible if you don’t overstay by more than a few weeks, at most.
Either way, we wouldn’t ever risk overstaying the legal welcome, but it’s totally up to you.
… and the good news
You don’t need to go through any difficult processes or pay a fee to enter these countries as the holder of a U.S. passport.
Some more good news? You can break up your 90 days in 90 days out in a 180-day period however you like. If you prefer to break it exactly into 3-month periods, that’s your prerogative, but you’re also welcome to break it up into whatever size chunks of time you prefer, as long as you respect the 90 days in, 90 days out ratio in any one 180-day period.
Remember, entry and exit dates count as a full day, no matter what time of day you arrive or depart.
Need some help? The folks at the European Commission have a handy calculator that you can use to figure out the numbers as well as a Schengen map to help you visualize the countries.
The best news
The EU is working on something they’re calling a Touring Visa that would last up to a year for travels around the Schengen area and be renewable for a second year.
Need some tips on saving euros in popular Schengen destinations? Head to the links below:
The United Kingdom
Americans can spend up to six months on a visitor visa (automatically bestowed in stamp form in your US passport upon arrival). Note that this includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland–NOT the Republic of Ireland, which declared its independence nearly a century ago.
The bright side is that obtaining this visa is simple. You get off the plane, go through passport control in London (or any other entry point), and get your stamp. Be aware though, that this visa doesn’t allow you to seek employment, so if you’re on the hunt for work abroad, you need to get a work permit.
The not-so-bright side?
The United Kingdom is one of the spendiest places in Europe to travel. But there are plenty of ways to keep your expenses under control, including these articles:
Double check the travel requirements before jumping on a low-cost flight in Europe. Photo: Riik
Regulations for visitor visas in Non-Schengen countries vary widely.
Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Republic of Ireland, and Romania all extend 90-day visitor visas to US citizens upon arrival. In Croatia, visitors must register with local police upon arrival. Other countries, like Belarus, only allow visitors to stay five days (including your day of arrival and departure) without a visa.
For up-to-the-minute country-by-country details, go to the passports and international travel section of the U.S. State Departments official website, travel.state.gov.
A few things to keep in mind
Some of these countries require you to have two blank pages in your passport, and six months left before it expires. You may also need to be able to demonstrate appropriate travel insurance for your stay (read our guide about travel insurance); in addition to prove you have sufficient resources to support yourself during your stay.
Need some tips on getting the best deals in Non-Schengen destinations? Check out the following articles:
Tips for Americans on how to stay longer in Europe for less
Go by train or budget air
It may sound counter-intuitive, but slow down and travel overland whenever you can. You’ll see more and spend less.
That said, if you’d rather flit around Europe on a plane, fly budget airlines into major cities’ secondary airports. Think London-Luton, Paris-Orly, and Venice-Treviso. Check for affordable flights with CheapoSearch.
Stretch your time limit out as far as possible
Our advice would be to slow down, simplify your travels, and head to more affordable destinations. While the UK is the best option when it comes to how long Americans can legally hang out and tour the countryside, our advice would be to work with the Schengen limitations to stretch your euros the furthest.
A sample itinerary for budget travelers
Remember that you can combine Schengen and non-Schengen countries to stretch out your travels. For example, you could spend 90 days touring Schengen members, then 90 days exploring any one or a combination of the cheaper non-Schengen destinations (Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania) before returning to the Schengen Zone for another 90 days if desired.
A Schengen visa stamp from Iceland. Photo: Matthew B.
Ideas for traveling in Europe for a year or more
If you simply must stay in Europe for a year or more and don’t really want to worry about entering and exiting to hack the visa system, there are a few more options.
Apply for longer stay visas
Travelers who want to spend their travel time in one country can apply for longer stay visitor visas in France, Sweden, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. Most require you to be able to prove you have sufficient income so you won’t need to work. You’ll also need insurance coverage, the reason for your stay, and proof of lodging.
Student and self-employment visas
A couple more viable options include a student visa or a self-employment visa. Whenever possible, students should check into schools in the country, and not study through their universities, as European institutions of higher learning are usually substantially cheaper — in the thousands as opposed to the tens of thousands an American school would probably charge you.
Freelancers should check out Germany, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic for self-employment visas, as they’re thought to be among the easiest to obtain.
Cheapo bonus tip for would-be long-term travelers
Always renew your passport early and check the right box to have 52 pages added to your passport instead of the standard 28 pages — there’s no extra cost. It takes up a little more space but it’s way better than running out of room for stamps and visas and having to buy a new passport before it expires. (In case you didn’t catch the update from the State Department, you can’t pay to add pages anymore!)
Your tips for taking long trips to Europe
Have you traveled to Europe on an extended visit? Tell us how you did it and what our readers can do to make their own long European journeys a possibility in the comments section below.
Traveling to Europe with a Biometric Passport
U.S. citizens will soon need to register with ETIAS, the European visa waiver, before going to any of the 26 Schengen Area nations.
Currently, Americans can visit Europe using just a valid passport. However, with the launch of ETIAS scheduled for November 2023, that is about to change. ETIAS is not a visa but it will become a mandatory entry requirement.
To apply for ETIAS, citizens of the U.S. need a biometric passport. This is because ETIAS is fully digital: rather than having to print out the permit and carry around a physical document, the visa waiver is linked to the passport electronically. A much more convenient solution for travelers.
But what exactly is a biometric passport and how does it differ from the traditional version? Answers to these questions can be found below in addition to advice for obtaining an ETIAS visa waiver online.
Differences Between Biometric and Normal Passports
Normal passports, or machine-readable passports, have been gradually replaced by biometric versions in recent years and adopted by countries across the world.
The main difference between the 2 types of travel documents is that the ePassport contains a microprocessor chip which is embedded inside it.
This chip contains biometric information that can be used to identify the holder accurately. As traditional passports do not contain the chip they are therefore less secure.
What information does a biometric chip in a passport contain?
Both machine-readable and biometric travel documents hold the following information which is essential for identifying travelers:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Additional biographical information such as birthplace
In both documents, the data is found within machine-readable lines whilst biometric lines also have an electronic chip that stores these details.
As well as the details listed above, ePassports also store certain biometrics, measurements of a person’s unique physical features.
It is the ability to store this information that makes the biometric passport far more secure than its predecessor.
Are all United States passports biometric?
All passports issued in the United States of America since 2007 have been ePassports.
Given that U.S. passports are valid for 10 years, all valid American passports should now be biometric passports.
How to tell whether a passport is biometric or not
Only individuals with a biometric passport can apply for ETIAS. Electronic passports can be identified by the small camera symbol which is printed on the cover.
This is the international sign for the ePassport and is displayed at electronic gates at airports.
Thanks to advances in technology, the chip is now so fine it is almost impossible to feel it embedded in the page.
How Do Biometric Passports Work?
Everyone has unique biometrics. By measuring the space between specific points on the face it is possible to identify an individual and, therefore, ensure that the passport was issued to the person attempting to use it.
Airports now have ePassport gates where people are asked to scan their documents whilst looking into a screen. At this point, the facial measurements are cross-checked against those contained on the chip.
Used in place of manual inspection, electronic passport gates remove the human-error element and also reduce waiting times at the border.
Advantages of the Biometric Passport
Biometric passports are newer and more modern than machine-readable documents and, therefore, much more secure.
The use of Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) to authenticate the information stored on the chip makes it incredibly difficult and expensive to forge.
Biometric passport holders are, in this way, protected from fraudsters who may have previously attempted to create a fake document using the information printed on the passport’s biographical page.
How is biometric passport information kept secure?
Biometric passports use several mechanisms to ensure that the data stored on the electronic chip is kept safe.
The following systems are all used to prevent attacks and the theft of information:
- Basic Access Control (BAC) protects the communication channel between the electronic chip and the reader
- Active Authentication (AA) stops biometric passport chips from being cloned
- Passive Authentication (PA) is used to detect any modification of the chip
- Extended Access Control (EAC) safeguards iris and fingerprint scans
Traditional passports were unable to offer such high levels of protection, making them more vulnerable to cloning, theft, and fraud.
Applying for ETIAS with a Biometric U.S. Passport
One of the greatest advantages of a biometric American passport is that it makes it possible to visit Top European destinations without a visa.
To enjoy visa-free access, American citizens traveling to Europe must register with ETIAS. This is done online by completing the short ETIAS form with a few basic personal details and passport data.
The data provided is automatically cross-checked against several security databases, allowing for quick identification of individuals who may pose a risk to Europe.
Provided nothing is flagged up, the ETIAS request is approved and the permit is linked to the holder’s passport chip electronically.
It is not possible to transfer an ETIAS visa waiver from one passport to another
Due to this electronic link, an ETIAS visa waiver is only valid in conjunction with the associated passport.
To apply for ETIAS with dual citizenship, it’s important to ensure the details of the passport that will be used to enter the Schengen Area are provided.
For the same reason, should the passport expire before the visa waiver, it is necessary to make a new ETIAS request using the renewed travel document.
As long as the passport does not expire, the authorization remains valid for 3 years and can be used for multiple stays of up to 90 days in a 180-day period.
ETIAS holders can travel throughout the Schengen Area, the permit is valid for all 26 countries with no need to obtain a separate authorization for each nation.
Benjamin Murphy is a freelance travel writer from Ohio, specializing in the European Union’s myriad of options for travel. After moving to the UK, he began collaborating with various media outlets, covering travel advice and entry requirements in an ever-changing tourism industry.
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