What? This was my reaction when my dad told me last night how he had gone to his travel agent to buy airline tickets to Mexico and the agent told him she could not sell him the tickets because his US passport was valid for less than six months. She told him that this was a new requirement imposed by Mexico.
For the seasoned traveler that I thought I was, I have to say that I knew diddly-squat about this travel requirement. I immediately panicked a little since my children and I are planning a trip to the UK soon. My daughter’s passport expires at the end of July of this year. It has less than 6 months left of validity. I started scouring the website for information about the UK and Mexico just to better understand this so-called 6-month rule.
The best source of course is to go to the US State Department for the most updated information. Last night in my hurried research (I was going to my daughter’s dance presentation at school), I totally missed this site. It was my wonderful travel agent friend from the UK that sent me the links this morning to the U.S. Passports and International Travel with the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the US Department of State site.
You enter the name of the country that you are traveling to and it gives you the passport validity requirements in addition to other critical information such as travel advisories, vaccination/blank pages/visa requirements, and currency restrictions. I breathed a sigh of relief to confirm that the UK simply requires a valid passport at the time of entry. But I did confirm that Mexico has the 6-month passport validity requirement. My parents have already started the paperwork for their new passport and will have to postpone their travels until they receive it.
To my surprise I found out that many countries around the world have this requirement for incoming visitors. As you well know, the danger with Internet research is that you have to make sure the source is up to date. Last night, I found conflicting information for Mexico. I have shared the following links to give you a general sense of the countries with this requirement. These sites are not up to date because Mexico is not on the list. It is best to use the state department site I mentioned above. I will say that I thought the first site below seemed very official since it was a U.S. Passport Help Guide but it too has not been updated.
Examples of sites that have not been updated but give you an idea of the countries with the 6-month passport validity requirement:
I also want to take this opportunity to mention that you also need to have blank pages available in your passport for immigration agents to stamp. The State Department link to country information I shared also lists the passport blank pages requirement. Last May I found myself with very limited free space in my passport that is valid until 2016. My plan was to add pages when I returned to the US in June after moving back from England. I ended up scheduling more trips than I anticipated before my return trip. I took a day trip from London to Paris and was severely reprimanded by the French immigration woman for having such limited space. Knowing that I’d be traveling to Brussels as well I rushed to the US Embassy in London and had extra pages inserted into the passport. I did not want to give any other immigration agent the chance of reprimanding me again. Border agents can be so different with regard to stamping your passport. Some really don’t care where they stamp your passport and some even stamp over old stamps. Others meticulously place their stamp in the provided space. And as I well know now, the French want to have ample choices of blank pages to pick from when stamping your passport. C’est la Vie!
I hope you find this information useful. Happy Travels!