How Long Should Your Passport Be Valid For When Traveling
Many cruisers and travelers, in general, are under the assumption you can travel on your passport up to the day of expiry. In almost all cases, this is incorrect so, when should you renew your passport?
It is a common misconception that you may enter into a country on a passport that is about to expire and remain legal as long as you depart before the expiry date of your passport.
A further misconception amongst cruisers is that you may enter a country up to the day your passport is about to expire, and then once you are cleared in, visit a local embassy to renew your passport.
Except with a very limited number of countries this could not be further from the truth.
The Six Month Validity Rule
Many countries require your passport to be valid for six months past your intended departure date. Other countries impose a four-month, three-month, or one-month validity rule.
It is worth checking to see how each country determines your departure date. The departure date used to determine additional passport validity.
The date you say you will be leaving the country. Which will then be the length of admission the immigration officer will stamp into your passport.
Other countries may determine your departure date as the end date for which normal tourist visas are issued.
For example, certain Schengen states (Most of the countries in Europe) will automatically grant all visitors an entry visa for 90 days (+/- three months).
As Schengen countries require 3-months passport validity past the departure date, you effectively require 3-months (visa) + 3-months (extra passport validity) = Your passport must be valid for 6-months on the day of arrival.
As a further example, French Polynesia requires six months validity beyond the departure date. All tourists are automatically given 90 days on entry. You would require your passport to be valid for 3 months (visa) + 6 months (extra Passport validity) = Your passport must be valid for 9 months on the day of arrival.
Countries That Require 6-Months Validity On Your Passport
Countries change their visa requirements all the time. For the most up-to-date information, please consult the visa section of the country you plan to visit’s website for your home country. The majority of the information comes from the US Department of State Website.
At present, Canada and Mexico do not enforce the 6-month rule for US Passport holders but do require a blank page to be available in the passport.
Central African Republic
Congo, Democratic Republic of the
Congo, Republic of the
Sao Tome and Principe
South Africa – Only requires 1-month
ASIA & MIDDLE EAST
Timor-Leste (East Timor)
United Arab Emirates
Westbank/ Gaza Strip
Antigua and Barbuda
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Trinidad and Tobago
SOUTH AMERICA & CENTRAL AMERICA
Ecuador – Including Galapagos
AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND,
NORTH & SOUTH PACIFIC
New Zealand – Only requires 1-month
Papua New Guinea
Additional Passport Requirements
Some countries in addition to extra validity on your passport past your departure date, may also require:
- One or two blank pages to insert a visa
- You may be required to obtain your tourist visa outside of the country before your arrival
Note On Entry Visas
Entry requirements for cruisers entering on their own boats may be different from the requirements for entering by air. For example, European citizens can travel visa-free by air on an airline that participates in the visa waiver program. However, the same traveler requires a visa in advance when entering on a private vessel or aircraft.
Tips For Keeping Your Passport Safe On a Boat
We know of more than a handful of full time cruisers who have either lost a passport or some-other important document on board. The most frequent culprit is moisture causing the document to get wet. And none were due to anything as dramatic as flooding.
Most were from a leaking deck-fitting or hatch that allowed water to run down to where their boat papers were stored.
For this reason, keeping your important documents in a drybag or large ziplock is a good idea. Just be careful that when you close the drybag that there is no moisture or humidity inside the bag, this will cause your documents to become moldy or stuck together.
I recommend placing the documents in a small waterproof lockbox or safe.