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A Little Known Travel Fact that can Cost you Thousands

Check country law before you travel
Check country law before you travel
Imagine you have just arrived at LAX for your well-planned vacation in the Galapagos Islands. Two weeks of adventure, fun and no work. First stop is curb-side baggage check in where they tell you “they can’t check you in,” and that you have to go inside.

So you drag your bags inside and stand in line for check in at the counter. At which point they tell you that you can’t board the plane because your passport expires in two months.

WHAT? Now you’re thinking, “I’m only travelling for two weeks, so doesn’t two months cover that?”

Nope: and that’s the little-known travel fact that can cost you thousands. It happened to some friends of mine just this past week.

You see several countries require citizens of the United States to have a passport with an expiration date of no less than six months from the date of their travel.

Shouldn’t SOMEONE have informed the consumer buying the ticket?

I asked an attorney that same question and the answer is – the onus falls on the consumer. The airline isn't responsible and neither is the travel agency that sold you the ticket … even if they are based in the country with the law (in this case Ecuador).

So your sorry self gets a tough lesson unless you check this information out beforehand.

And each country does NOT count the expiration date exactly the same way. For example, some nations count the expiration date as six months from the date of entry into their country. Others use the scheduled departure date as their marker.

Brazil, Israel, Malaysia and Indonesia use six months from the date of entry; Paraguay, Romania, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands use six months from date of departure.

Other countries that have this rule include: China, Argentina, Aruba, Myanmar (Burma), Singapore, Fiji, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Barbados, Spain, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, United Kingdom and Belgium.

It’s an extensive list and always better to err on the side of caution and renew your passport if you are doing any travel.

Typical processing time for passport renewal is six weeks, but it can be longer. There is also a process to apply for expediting your renewal. Contact the National Passport Information Center at 877-487-2778 to find out more.

You can also check out a good source for passport validity at http://travel.state.gov/

If none of these options work for you, you can contact the host country’s embassy or consulate and obtain a special visa for travel during the expiration period.

C'est la vie. UGH.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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