If you are like me and love traveling, you know how it's essential to always have your U.S. passport ready and available. You never know when an amazing deal or opportunity comes along and you always want to be ready.
Have you checked your U.S. passport expiration date? I want to be open with you… I let my passport expire and I didn’t know it. It was disappointing to discover that on the morning of our trip. What? YOU let your passport expire? Yes, I knew in my head that I had checked it however being 2020 of course I hadn’t done so.
The next Monday I went to fill out the paperwork at my approved passport location and paid to expedite it. I went to my approved site to fill out the application and take the photo to make sure I had it correct so my U.S. passport processing would be smooth and as quick as possible. Due to COVID-19, what normally would take two weeks took six weeks however I am now the proud holder of a valid passport.
Your task today is to go and check your passport. Do you have enough time on your U.S. passport for your 2021 trips?
According to the Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs travel website, "If you were age 16 or older when your passport was issued, your passport is valid for 10 years. If you were under 16 when your passport was issued, your passport is valid for 5 years. The Issue Date of your passport can be found on the data page of your passport book or on the front of your passport card."
Standard passport renewal can take 10-12 weeks (at least) and costs $110, though you can pay an additional $60 to possess it expedited to 4-6 weeks.
Many countries require you to have at least 6 months before it expires beyond the dates of your trip. Some airlines will not allow you to board if this requirement is not met. It is always best to renew ahead of time to avoid the hassle especially during busy travel periods and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Look at your international travel plans and see when you will not need your passport and renew it then.
Here are the countries that require U.S. citizens to have at least six months of validity on their passports.
Antigua and Barbuda
Belgium (must be valid for 3 months beyond planned departure from the Schengen Area)
Central African Republic
The Democratic Republic of the Congo
Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
France (must be valid for 3 months beyond planned departure from the Schengen Area)
Germany (must be valid for 3 months beyond planned departure from the Schengen Area)
Iceland (3 months validity required)
Kazakhstan (3 months validity requirement)
Panama (3 months validity)
Papua New Guinea
Republic of the Congo
Sao Tome and Principe
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Spain (3 months required, 6 recommended)
Tajikistan (3 months required)
Timor-Leste (East Timor)
Trinidad and Tobago
United Arab Emirates
While most countries require your passport to be valid for a minimum of six months, some require validity at the time of entry or throughout your stay. This is subject to change and in my opinion, not worth the risk. Go ahead and renew earlier. Here are the countries, you can wait on (technically) renewing your passport as long as the expiration date isn’t during your trip:
Canada (3 months for onward travel to Europe)
United Kingdom (6 months for onward travel)
West Bank and Gaza
Traditionally, you can renew your U.S. passport via mail or in-person by filling out a Form DS-82, provide a photo, your most recent passport, and check for the fees. Thankfully, passport services and passport renewal is now available online at the US Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs travel website. There are options to rush processing too if absolutely required.
Be sure to update your passport number will change once you renew it so be sure to update Global Entry and any other sites you have provided your passport number to so you are up to date.