Six Months Passport Validity Rule
First and foremost, every traveler must have a passport when traveling overseas. Adults, children, and infants must have a valid U.S. passport. The six months passport validity rule applies to both passport types:
- Adult passports (16 years old and older) for U.S. citizens are valid for 10 years.
- Minor passports (15 and younger) for U.S. citizens are valid for 5 years.
In addition, there are other passport requirements, which differ from nation to nation. Be sure to check the entry and exit requirements for each country you plan to travel.
Six Months Passport Validity Rule Explained
Most countries require that visitors have a valid passport, but it is often times not enough. Also, you must have at least 6 months validity from the departure date of your trip.
For example, if you are planning to travel to Argentina or China in May for a month, your US passport must be valid for at least 6 months after you plan on being home again. In other words, your passport needs to be valid until December for a trip ending in June.
On the other hand, there are a few countries that require only 3 months of passport validity, which are mostly European nations in the Schengen Zone.
Exceptions to Six Months Passport Validity Rule
Some countries are more lenient with the 6 month passport validity rule.
Mexico are the two most commonly traveled countries that do not enforce a 6 month validity for your passport. Please be sure to check with each country’s requirements for entry and exit travel before you travel.
UPDATE (1-20-2015): Mexico now requires U.S. passport holders to have 6 months of validity.
Why the 6 months passport validity rule?
It is not a requirement of the U.S. government, but rather the requirements of other countries accepting foreign tourists. Usually, countries have the six month passport validity rule in place because they do not want to risk having travelers and tourists overstaying their passport validity.
While 6 months is a long time, it has become the de facto rule for many countries. Visitors to the United States must also have 6 months validity of their passports. There is no clear reason why countries enforce the rule, but you must abide by them.
Visas and the 6 Months Passport Validity Rule
Visas may sometimes be issued for longer than a passport is valid. In this case, you must apply for a passport renewal.
You may be able to travel with a renewed passport and old passport with the visa. Please contact the country that issued the visa to find out if it can re-issue the visa for your renewed passport.
List of Countries that Require 6 Months of Passport Validity
Moreover, as the requirements for each country can change at any time, be sure to contact the country’s embassy or consulate directly. You can also check the U.S. State Department website.
• Albania • Angola • Bahrain • Belize • Bolivia • Botswana • Brazil • Brunei • Burma (Myanmar) • Burundi • China • Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) • Ecuador (including Galápagos Islands) • French Polynesia • Guyana • Honduras • Indonesia • Iran • Iraq • Israel* • Kenya • Kiribati • Laos • Madagascar • Malaysia • Mauritius • Micronesia • Mozambique • Namibia • New Caledonia • Nicaragua (currently waived by bilateral agreement) • Oman • Palau • Papua New Guinea • Philippines • Russian Federation • Saudi Arabia • Singapore • Taiwan • Tajikistan • Tanzania • Thailand • Timor-Leste (East Timor) • Turkey • Turkmenistan • Uganda • Ukraine • Venezuela • Vietnam • Zambia
Six Months Passport Validity Rule Information
Finally, some airlines that fly to Israel may enforce the six months passport validity rule on a U.S. passport. Check with your airline first if you have less than 6 months passport validity.
NOTE: Micronesia requires U.S. passport holders to have 4 months passport validity.