Three Surprising Reasons Your Passport May Not Be Valid For Travel
Your tickets are purchased, your bags are packed, you’ve checked to see if your destination requires a visa… but have you checked to make sure your passport is valid for travel? When it comes to passport advice, I turn to G3 Visas and Passports on the best ways to avoid complications before travel.
1. Check Your Expiration Date
“All too often, we receive frantic calls from the airport from travelers who have been denied boarding because their passport is too close to its expiration date” says a representative from G3 Visas and Passports. Almost every country in the world follows the “six month rule,” meaning that your passport must be valid for six months after your planned departure from the country (it’s not just a government issue, it’s the airline’s policy). Even if you don’t have any travel planned, we recommend that you keep an eye on your expiry date and renew your passport when it nears that six-month mark.
2. Check Your Pages
Before you travel, flip through your passport and check to see if you still have any blank pages marked “Visas.” You will need to have at least one completely blank page for entry to any country, and the pages near the back of the passport that say “Amendments” or “Endorsements” do not count. Some countries, such as South Africa, require you to have two blank pages next to each other.
3. Check Your Passport’s Condition
If your passport has endured hard wear or has taken a trip through the washing machine, it might be considered mutilated*. Common examples of mutilated passports include loose or missing covers, water-damaged pages, or peeling plastic coating on the photo page. Mutilated passports aren’t just invalid for travel; they no longer count as valid proof of US citizenship.
(If you need to renew your passport, have passport pages added, or replace a mutilated passport, G3 can help with expedited passport services. They even offer same-day passport service through their Concierge Level Emergency Passport Service – just call G3 or email CLS@g3visas.com to begin your customized emergency service.)
*A US passport is considered mutilated if it is significantly water damaged, torn, if the cover is loose or peeling, if there are any marks on the biographical information page, or if any of the pages have been cut out. Mutilated passports cannot be renewed, but must be replaced in a process very similar to that used when a passport has been lost or stolen. If your passport has been mutilated, you will need to submit alternate proof of your US citizenship (such as an original birth certificate) along with your damaged passport and a letter explaining how the damage occurred. The most common passport damage we see is water damage, often from passports having been put through the washing machine such as the passport shown below, on which water damage has caused the cover to peel. Normal wear and tear, such as a slight bend to the passport or curling of the edges of the pages, is not enough to be considered mutilation, and the passport can be renewed as normal. A passport that is in poor condition can be submitted for renewal, and then re-submitted as a mutilated passport replacement if the US Passport Agency considers the damage too severe to renew the passport.
Editors’ Note: Carolyn Paddock writes about products and services that are beneficial for travelers. The products and services mentioned are neither commissioned by nor written in cooperation with the product company or manufacturers.