Your Passport Could Be Useless — Even if It’s Not Expired


If you’re planning to travel abroad soon, you may have already researched COVID-19 vaccination and/or quarantine requirements for the country you want to visit.

But one aspect of travel planning you may have overlooked is whether your passport will remain valid throughout your trip.

Even though your passport may not be expired, some conditions could render it invalid.

Your Passport May Not Be Expired, But It Could Still Be Invalid

In this article, I’m going to show you how an otherwise good passport could be invalid — and what you need to do to make sure that never happens.

First, let’s go over a scenario we hope you’re not facing right now.

You’ve booked your trip to another country, but your passport is set to expire before you’re scheduled to return to the United States — or even several weeks after you’re scheduled to return. If so, you may not be permitted to fly out of the U.S.

Even in a normal cycle, renewing a passport takes a while time: 18 weeks (12 weeks if you want to pay more to get it expedited). And a July 2021 update on the U.S. Department of State’s website says that passport renewals are backed up beyond the normal processing times.

If you have questions or need help with your passport, that’s a problem right now as well. The State Department says its passport call center is experiencing longer-than-normal wait times due to the high volume of calls.

So here’s the question you need to ask yourself based on your planned date of travel:

Do I Have at Least 6 Months Left on My Passport?

Some countries require that your passport be valid at least six months beyond the dates of your trip,” it says on the U.S. Department of State website. “Some airlines will not allow you to board if this requirement is not met.”


Additionally, some countries require that you have at least six months of passport validity upon entry. The exact number of months you need on your passport depends on your destination.

Do This Before You Book Your Travel

Before you pick a travel destination abroad, research the specific passport rules of that country.

What happens if you have, say, three months before your passport expires and you have a trip coming up soon to a destination that requires at least six months of validity? You will need to expedite that renewal.

How Much Does It Cost To Expedite My Passport?

To get your passport renewed, it generally costs $110, but it could surpass $200 when you add processing fees for rush jobs.

Here is the State Department’s passport renewal fee schedule for 2021 (current as of this writing):

Adult Passport Book$110
Adult Passport Card$30
Expedite Passport Fee$60
1-2 Day Delivery$17.56

Use the State Department’s Passport Fee Calculator to see how much it will cost in your case.

Bottom Line

Traveling is supposed to be a time to recharge yourself and have fun. The last thing you need is to have it soured by passport red tape. So before you travel internationally, always remember to:

  • Check your passport expiration date.
  • Check the specific passport rules for the country or countries you plan to visit.

Is your passport nearing expiration? If you’re planning on traveling to a foreign land within the next 12 months, renew your passport well ahead of your trip, even if it still has a few months left on it. 

Looking for a trip that won’t break your wallet? Read about Clark’s #1 rule to cheap travel.

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