Last year I wrote an article about six months passport validity requirement imposed by some countries for entry requirements. My family will be undertaking an upcoming trip to India, and now I want to revisit the issue again to find out whether any new information can be collected to get a clear idea of rules imposed by each country.
On the one hand countries have rules a passport must be valid for three months or six months beyond the planned return date or have no particular rule enforcing passport validity.
What would you do when your passport is going to expire in less than 3 months or 6 months and the country you are planning to visit has no specific rules for barring visitors from entering the country because the passport is going to expire soon.
Passport Check at The Airport
A lot of countries have a clear cut information on the country website clearly stating the passport validity rule for visiting the country. For example, Singapore embassy/consulate websites clearly say the passport validity requirement.
Whereas for some other countries like India the condition is not explicitly specified, even though the State Department website says the passport must be just valid at the time of entry. Can we assume that we will not have any issue at the airport check out counter when we travel to a country like India which does not specifically says passport must be valid for 3 or 6 months beyond the date of departure?
In the airport, you have to face the check-in agent, if the passport requirement for a trip to a particular country is not clearly defined how does the agent find out whether you are allowed to board the plan or not?. Depends on the airline there are several ways the agent can determine whether your passport is valid for travel or not.
Passport Valid for International Travel
Most of the airline websites in the USA and Europe clearly states how they will validate a passport for international travel. But we do not know at the check-in counter how the airline agent will check and approve our travel assuming there is no clear cut definition of whether a passport is valid or not.
Does the computer reservation system alert the agent when the passport is scanned or the agent will only look at the passport expiry date and deny boarding if the passport is going to expire in the next three or six months?
How can one find out whether the passport the person is having is valid for travel the foreign destination assuming the passport will expire within the next six months?
Passport Validity for Travel to India
Back in March, I took a trip to India when my passport was about to expire in less than 5 months at the time I took the trip based on Department of State information for India that the passport must be valid upon arrival in India and I did not have any issue at the check-in counter when I checked in for my India trip.
Now my family will be traveling to India and my spouse passport will be expiring withing three months of the departure date and within one month of the intended return date from India.
I went to the Department of State to check out the passport requirement for India. Now suddenly after June 19, 2017, the wording has changed, The Department of State has removed the passport must be valid on arrival to passport must be valid at least six months to obtain a visa.
But in the Entry-Exit requirement, it was showing all US citizens must have a valid passport and a visa. My spouse already has a visa for travel to India, can she go to India even though the passport is going expire within three months?
Unlike Singapore unfortunately, India embassy or consulate website is not clear about the passport validity for travel. If you read between the lines according to the Department of State website, it is fine to go to India as long as the passport is not expired and you have a valid visa.
Because of the change in the definition at the Department of State website, I got confused, and I wanted to find out further to see whether she can travel with a passport that will expire soon but valid during the duration of the trip.
How to Check my Passport is Valid for International Travel
There are few ways you can check whether you can travel internationally when your passport is valid for less than three or six months.
Check using Department of State Website
Last year I wrote a blog article about how you can check your passport for international travel using the department state website. Using the department of state website you just choose the country in the displayed map or enter the name of the country and hit go, the website will display the passport validity requirement. For example to go to Singapore the department of state website clearly shows the passport must be valid for 6 months or more beyond the date of departure from Singapore.
But just as I explained above for travel to India the wording used in the department of state between and last year and this year has considerably changed. Last year it clearly said that the passport must be valid on arrival, not it is changed to a valid passport.
But at this point, I do not know whether the check-in agent will refer to Department of State for passport validity or some other website to find out the passport validity requirement for traveling to a particular country or the computer system in the check-in counter automatically clear someone travel based on the destination and passport expiry?
But as per the Department of State website for India, the passport must be valid at the time of entry, is a clear indication there are no issues as long as the passport is valid during the duration of travel even if the passport is going to expire soon.
Check using IATA website
If you run an internet search on US airline name and the passport requirement, I found out most of the USA based airlines check the validity condition using either Department of State website or International Air Travel Association (IATA).
I used the link available for traveler information to find out the passport requirement for India. I just plugged in all the details like date of travel, passport expiration date and other information to see whether the passport is valid for travel to India.
The issue with IATA website is that it does not ask whether you have a valid visa, it always assumes you do not have a visa. When all the details are entered on the IATA website for travel to India, the result displayed shows that the passport is valid even though it is going to expire in less than three months.
The IATA.org website is very ambiguous it correctly shows the results for visa waiver countries, if you enter a country name that requires a visa, it will immediately assume you do not have a visa and the final displayed result shows indicates you need a visa. There is absolutely no option to enter any information about the visa status.
Since the IATA website showed the passport is valid for travel but requires a visa. I assume my spouse can go to India even the passport is going to expire within three months.
Check using Sky Team Alliance website
Since my family will be traveling through Air France, I wanted to find out whether Air France will check the document using a particular site. I found a link on the Air France website for passport and visa requirement and wanted to see the validity of the passport for traveling to India.
The Air France and other Sky Team alliance member uses the Sky Team alliance passport requirement website to check the passport validity.
After entering all the information like travel dates, passport expiry date, duration of stay and visa information the Sky Team alliance website returned a message the passport is valid for travel.
Unlike the IATA.org website, the Sky Team Alliance website has an option to enter the visa status. The passport information along with the visa status shows whether one is allowed to travel or not.
To test the Sky Team alliance website I entered the travel destination as Singapore, the Sky Team website clearly stated the passport must be valid beyond six months before the intended date of return from Singapore.
From this, I found out that the Sky Team alliance website is working correctly and one can travel to India as long as the passport is valid during the duration of the trip.
In the post 9/11 days, there is no clear cut rule that clearly states the passport validity, also the rules change suddenly within a short amount of time. Can my wife take a risk showing up at the airport with a passport that will expire within three months or the check in agent or airline will enforce their own rule and deny her from boarding?
The passport validity rule is very confusing, even though Department of State and various websites show my spouse can go to India without any issue, what happens if the airline uses their own rule at the time of check-in and stop her from traveling. Since all the three websites I checked regularly advised by airlines to check for passport validity shows that just a valid passport is enough to go to India; at this point, we are probably thinking our family is ready for the planned trip without applying for a new passport.