Maria L. from Woodbridge asks: Why is it necessary to have a passport that’s still valid six months after you return to the United States? My current passport expires about 4 and a half months after I return from my trip to Italy and I really don’t want to spend the extra money right now.
Thanks for contacting me, Maria, that’s a great question! Many people incorrectly believe that this rule is in place as a way for our government to make extra money by making citizens to renew their passports before the renewal date. The truth is, the six-month rule isn’t a requirement of the United States government at all, it’s actually a requirement of many foreign governments, put in place to keep visitors from staying past their passport expiration. This is the reason people whose passports expire with less than six months left are required to renew early. For the most part, airlines and cruise lines won’t even allow you to board if your passport doesn’t meet the six-month guideline so you’re going to have to go ahead and renew for your upcoming trip.
As a further FYI, the tenth anniversary of the implementation of Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative was January 23, 2017. What this means is there will be a lot of passport renewals submitted in the next couple of months which will most likely slow down the process for a while. If you’re planning on traveling and don’t have a passport, I’d recommend applying early, leaving yourself sufficient time prior to your departure date to receive your new passport.
To ask your travel question, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you!