One of the first things that we look at when you book a trip with Knowmad Adventures, a travel company that creates active, authentic and sustainable travel in South America, is when your passport will expire. If your passport expiration is less than six months before the date of your trip, we request that you renew your passport before your departure. We lay out the reasons why you need six months on your passport below.
Why do I need six months on my passport?
There are many reasons why having six months on your passport is always highly recommended when you travel internationally.
- Many countries require it for entry.
As most frequent travelers know, there are different entry requirements for every country. Some places only require a valid passport, while other can require a specific length of validity for entrance.
Currently, only a few countries in South America require passports to have six months’ validity to enter. However, changes to these restrictions occur frequently.
- Many airlines require six months on your passport.
Policies on passports vary between airlines. Some airlines require six months’ validity on your passport even if you aren’t going to a country that requires it. These policies are enforced (or not) at the discretion of each company, and sometimes even at the discretion of the gate agent. However, we strongly recommend having at least six months’ validity on your passport at all times because one doesn’t want bad luck to prevent you from having a smooth trip.
- Requirements can change at any time.
Both countries and airlines frequently change their policies on passport validity. Changes can happen at any time, and you will probably not receive forewarning. As a traveler, you are expected to know the entry requirements of the countries you are visiting.
- Not only your final destination matters.
In some cases, you may be connecting through a country that requires your passport to have six months’ validity. It is critical that you know the requirements of every country that you are visiting and connecting through.
- In case of emergencies or changes in plans.
While there isn’t a high probability of such changes occurring, it’s called “the unexpected” for a reason. Emergencies can happen, and you may need to stay in the country for longer than you planned or unexpectedly enter a country that requires six months on your passport. And sometimes, it’s as simple as a change to your flight itinerary that diverts you to a country where six months’ validity is a requirement.
- There is a lot of confusion on this subject.
You can ask multiple expert sources “Do I need six months on my passport?” or “What are the passport expiration requirements?”, and you will probably get different answers from each one. There is a lot of confusion surrounding this question due to the unique policies of each country and each airline, as well as the constant changes in policies and the inconsistencies in their enforcement.
In short, the best way to feel secure when you arrive at the airport is to have more than six months’ validity on your passport after your dates of travel.
What if I don’t renew my passport before I travel?
Ultimately, traveling with less than six months’ validity on your passport is your choice. But remember, you will be the one that suffers if you are stopped due to passport issues. If you have a few months before your departure, why risk the potential of being denied boarding and missing out on your trip if you can easily renew your passport and prevent any issues from arising?
How do I renew my passport?
Visit the USA.gov website for the most up-to-date information on how to renew your passport or to get your first passport.
Con cariño, Krista
Krista is part of the Operations team at Knowmad Adventures, a company dedicated to creating unique, private and custom trips in South America. She has lived in six countries on four continents and visited more than fifty countries, but is now settled back in her home state of Minnesota where she loves sharing her passion and knowledge with fellow travelers.