Why are passports no good within six months of expiration?

I don’t know that France specifically has the 6-month requirement for US passport holders. But if they do, then yes.

Per our passenger service folks, we have a gigantic table in the database of every combo of passport and destination and all the details on who requires what for how long. The “6 months” thing is a generic rule of thumb for humans. The computer is far more fussy.

I only have 1 story about immigration follies, but it was fun. For me, if not for the guest star.

Back in the day before boarding passes were scanned by a computer before you get down the jetbridge, it was common enough for somebody to get on the wrong flight. If it wasn’t full, the seat assignment for the correct flight might still work on the wrong flight, or the two folks mistakenly both in 14B would sort out a solution with or without FA involvement, but in any case with nobody updating any computers.

So one day in a raging snowstorm we launch off from the hub bound for Cancun 3 hours late. For us it’s fly down about 4-1/2 hours, hang out 90 minutes on board the plane then fly the same plane back. So planned for about a 12-hour workday including our pre- and post- duties. Plus the delay = 15 hours. We don’t deal with immigration or customs at all as long as we stay on the plane.

We get about halfway there and the FA notifies us we have a passenger aboard who was going to Des Moines, not Cancun. I corrected her: “Nope, he’s going to Cancun, then back to the hub, then to Des Moines.” This came to light when they started passing out the Mexican immigration / customs entry forms and the passenger freaked out. Of course, being a generic American who’d never want to travel internationally he has no passport. Not just not carrying one on his person, but has never had one issued in his life. Pre-9/11 & pre-TSA that was real common. We notify Cancun we’ve got this problem coming their way.

On arrival our ground team tells us to identify the passenger before they let anyone else off. Our staffer is accompanied by two armed officials who looked exactly like every cheapo movie’s idea of a corrupt 3rd World customs / border policeman. Bad moustaches, big intimidating hats & badges, too much firepower, etc.

They escort the passenger off while the rest of the crowd ogles this major international crime figure being taken down. Before northbound boarding began this guy was the very first person aboard, escorted back onto the airplane by the same two goons. I found out later the pax spent the 90 ground minutes locked in a small concrete cell in the terminal.

We get the guy back to snow country in time to miss the last flight to Des Moines. And of course since the airline is disrupted, by that hour the local hotels are full of other disrupted passengers. Last I heard he was planning on sleeping in the terminal.

So much for fun in the sun for him.

How’d he get on our flight? The flight to Des Moines was originally supposed to leave from that gate at about the time we did. But we were late and the Des Moines flight had been moved elsewhere. He never checked the terminal gate info screens, just trusted his paper boarding pass issued many hours before at whichever airport he had started his day at. He also paid zero attention to any of the many PAs during boarding. This was all before fancy phones, text messages, airline apps, and all the rest.

FTR I’ve never had an issue with the professionalism of any nation’s border officials. They are going to follow their rules, not your mistaken impression of their rules. But if you come into it with that attitude, everything seems to work smoothly.


And airlines can be quite stringent in making sure that a traveler complies with all requirements for entry. I am a US citizen but a permanent resident of Panama. When I travel to the US, my round-trip ticket terminates in Panama. With some airlines, I have trouble checking in on-line for the return trip because of that - they require an onward ticket. And even though Panama has no visa requirement for US citizens, when I check in at the airport I have to show my residence card to do so without an onward ticket.

The Irish police had a similar problem:

Details of how police in the Irish Republic finally caught up with the country’s most reckless driver have emerged, the Irish Times reports.

He had been wanted from counties Cork to Cavan after racking up scores of speeding tickets and parking fines.

However, each time the serial offender was stopped he managed to evade justice by giving a different address.

But then his cover was blown.

It was discovered that the man every member of the Irish police’s rank and file had been looking for - a Mr Prawo Jazdy - wasn’t exactly the sort of prized villain whose apprehension leads to an officer winning an award.

In fact he wasn’t even human.

" Prawo Jazdy is actually the Polish for driving licence"

BBC News - The mystery of Ireland’s worst driver

Could be worse. There’s always Hungary.

I’ve been in France, Spain, Italy and could figure things out pretty well with high school French and Spanish. Even Germany and Holland weren’t too bad (Dutch is almost badly pronounced English if you sound it out). But the signs in Budapest were totally incomprehensible.

Right now, it looks like 3 months. And yes, they will. When you get to the border of (or fly into a terminal in) France, they will look at your passport. If it expires in less than 3 months, you will not be allowed to enter France. You will have to go back to where you came from. If you flew in, the airline has to take you. If you’re on foot, you’ll need to walk away.

The airlines, in order to avoid the headache of flying you back, will check your passport before you leave and see if you have enough time on your visa (if needed) and passport. If you do not have sufficient time remaining (and they are paying attention) they won’t let you board until you’ve remedied that issue.

That’s because Hungarian isn’t an Indo-European language (along with Basque, Finnish, and Turkish, the only ones in Europe.)

True. The times I have renewed with a specific travel date, I’ve gotten it before my date, even once when it was only seven weeks away (story later). However, the times I’ve renewed without a travel date, it’s take at least three months.

I got my first passport when I was 9, for travel just a couple of weeks before my 10th birthday. Since then, I’ve always kept a valid passport. That means I actually had one I never traveled on, but did use for ID a couple of times when I lost me driver’s license; I also used to take it with me when I traveled intranationally* in the US in my teens and 20s, because almost every place required two pieces of photo ID before they’d accept a check, and did not permit an out-of-state university ID to be one of them. Once I got my first credit card, places were satisfied with one piece of ID if I had a credit card that was signed, and it matched the sig on my photo ID (driver’s license), and sig on my check.

Another passport I had gotten just to have a valid one at the ready turned out to be a good thing. A good friend from high school who was Hungarian, and had lived with his great-aunt for the experience of going to a US high school, and developing his English skills (we bonded over living with other-than-parents, and also having been to the Soviet Union-- when he first got there), invited me to his wedding in Hungary.

It happened I had some money because I had gotten insurance money after my father had died the year before; my father loved to travel, especially in Eastern Europe, so I used some of the insurance money to go to the wedding, see a little of Budapest, visit my relatives in Slovakia, and fly home with a 36 hours stopover at Heathrow. So I saw a little of London again.

It was kind of a spur-of-the moment trip, because the wedding was put together rather quickly-- for which there was a reason, but not a scandalous one, so I had only a month to line up tickets, hotels, passport, visas, etc. I don’t think there was any way I could have had enough turn-around on my passport to get the visas in time. I know that now there is a 24-turn around option for people with a travel emergency, but it costs a couple hundred dollars, you need to have an emergency, which I doubt a wedding is, and I don’t even know is this was a possibility 25 years ago.

So, yeah, always good to have a valid passport, and to renew when you hit the “6 months remain” mark.

*Yes, that’s a word. In the case of the US, it means travel that is solely within the US, but outside one’s home state.

Not everyone is so lucky. I’ve seen an Australian border official talking in a very loud voice, and then, when the passenger didn’t understand English, upgrading it to a VERY LOUD VOICE.

I’d have thought that ‘talking louder’ to someone who didn’t understand English was just exaggerated humor you see in books or movies, but no.

And personally, I think that being directed into a closed queue, then just left to molder, while the supervisor chatted to the cleaners in the background, wasn’t a great example of professionalism either.

Fortunately, I only have to deal with Australian border officials at one end of each trip…

Thirteen years ago I went on a three-day plane trip. My passport expired on the day I came back. Other than an immigration officer noting “did you know your passport expires on the day you come back?” there were no issues.

Having said that, I was lucky. I would never take a risk like that again.

Just by way of nitpicking (and not relevant to the thread topic), I’ll add Estonian, Sami and Maltese to that list.

One of the worst travel decisions I have made was to travel to the US via Vancouver. I had had good experiences exiting the US via Vancouver, so I figured that entering would be no problem.

The issue started when I got to the airport to leave. I went to check-in, and the attendant told me I needed a Canadian visa. I was confused, because I was transiting via Canada, and not staying.

With a rapid panic I shot off to a Travel Agent who was able to do the needful (at 4 times the cost of doing it myself). This was completed in time and I made the flight to Vancouver.

Basically, only a few select airlines (ones I was not flying) have the freedom to transit passengers. So I had to enter Canada on arrival, go through customs and immigration, and then head directly to the US entry point in the same airport, and go through US Immigration and customs.

One of my colleagues actually missed his flights, and another had to pay a fee and reschedule via a US airport.

We were not well impressed. Part of the problem was our corporate travel agent who did not warn us about this requirement. But the change in expectation (transiting a country without a visa vs entering that country with a visa) was really confusing.

Requiring a long validity period on a passport is apparently not universal.

In late December of 2019 I bought tickets (on British Airways) to take my son, who was in his senior year of college, to London for his Spring Break the last week of March 2020. My passport was going to expire in late April, so I very carefully checked the UK government web site about expiration restrictions (on recent trips to Israel it was very clear that you couldn’t go if your passport expired within 6 months of arrival, so I knew there might be issues). I thought I could probably get renewed on time, but certainty would require the paying the expedited fees, and I’m cheap about stuff like that. But the ever-so-special relationship between the US and UK apparently extended to only requiring my passport to expire after my return flight, which it would, by about 4 weeks.

Then a little pandemic thing happened and the UK locked down a week before we were scheduled to go. Until that point, BA wasn’t even going to let us change our flight without a massive change fee. But then they said we could get a credit good for 1 year (optimists!) which I applied for. Before they’d even processed that request (things were a bit slow at that point), all the flights got canceled and they rescheduled us on different dates. At that point, special rules kicked in so we could request a full refund, which I did, and I got my money back.

Now my passport has been expired for almost 9 months, but I probably won’t need it for at least another year, at the rate things are going.

So this is another one of those great “OP’s Avatar vs the thread topic” threads. Always remember, Whack-a-Mole, when traveling internationally, smuggling speed in your white canvas basketball shoes is a terrible idea.

And Finnish, which - together with Estonian and Hungarian - is part of the Finno-Ugric family of languages. Maltese, on the other hand, is Semitic and thus related to Arabic and Hebrew.

Speaking of all this, I need to renew my passport. How long is it taking to process one?

As an American resident of Switzerland, I’ve had the same experience.

Hubby’s passport expires in April, but we probably won’t get vaccinated until June, so we won’t be traveling earlier than that.

Unfortunately we can’t his pictures done now due to the lockdown. Also, to pay for the passport, we have to go to the consulate or embassy. Something to do in March when hopefully things are a bit calmer.

When we are in the Schengen area and someone wants to see our passports, we always have to make certain we also have our residency permits. As soon as they see the U.S. passport they start looking for the entry stamp, which we don’t have, as we are residents of the Schengen area.

I have no idea what this means.

EDIT: Ah…Hunter S. Thompson…got it.

Your avatar is Hunter S. Thompson, isn’t it?:wink:

Yup…took me a minute but my brain got there.

For some reason my brain saw “Avatar” and locked on to the movie by that name and I was confused. :slight_smile: