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It’s pretty common knowledge that in most cases US passports for kids under 16 expire every five years and those for adults expire every ten years. It is amazing how quickly five years can go by, and in fact we are at the point that our oldest daughter’s passport already needs renewing. Not only can five years fly, but 4.5 years goes by even faster and that is exactly the real timeframe to keep in mind when renewing your kids’ passports.
I’ve written previously about getting a young child’s and infant’s passports before (including how to get an infant’s passport photo), but I think this issue of needing to renew more than six months before the printed expiration date can’t be emphasized enough as it sneaks up on even experienced travelers.
As you may already know if you frequently travel internationally, the magic date isn’t really the expiration date on your passport, it is six months before that. While your passport is still valid in the eyes of the United States until it actually expires, dozens of countries will not permit you to enter unless you have at least six months remaining on your current passport. They do not want to risk you overstaying your welcome and then ending up with an expired passport.
Not every country in the world requires you to still have at least six months until your passport’s expiration date in order to enter. Some require three months beyond your planned travel dates and some just require it to be valid for your specific dates of travel, but enough have a six month requirement that I highly recommend you consider your and your children’s passports expired six months before the actual dates.
Not only do you have to contend with the actual policies for the countries you plan to visit, but the airlines also play a role in this game. I have heard multiple stories of agents and airlines wanting your passport to be valid for at least six months from the date of travel, even to destinations where the country itself does not carry that same requirement. As an example, Mexico does not currently require your passport to be valid for six months beyond your date of travel, but I have heard of many instances where the airline required that extra validity period and even denied boarding to those flying to Mexico who did not meet the extra six months mark. In fact, American Airlines even has that “6 months rule” on their website despite it not applying to all countries.
If you are in the miles, points, and travel deals hobby where unexpected opportunities pop up quickly then there may come a time when you are kicking yourself for not renewing your passport earlier if it causes you to miss out on a ‘spur of the minute’ travel opportunity. There are too many countries and airlines who are particular about the passport lasting at least six months beyond your travel dates to risk trying to travel on it in those final few months.
When you get a free minute, take a peek at the expiration dates for all of the passports in your family and make sure you don’t accidentally sail past that final six months mark. Also factor into that equation that children’s passports must be renewed in person with both parents appearing, or with one parent appearing and the other completing a notarized DS-3053. In other words, the logistics of renewing a child’s passport often require a little bit of planning.
Have you ever been bitten by trying to travel on a passport in the final few months before it expires?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.