I am a full-time traveling registered nurse, fitness enthusiast, and nutrition expert. Every morning I wake up intending to bring awareness of the importance of health and spiritual wellness, especially to the traveling community. At Messy Bun Traveler, we promote travel that allows the traveler to either kick-start, maintain, or enhance a healthy lifestyle. So whether you're someone who travels for business, travels for pleasure, or new to travel and looking for health advice while on the road, this blog is for you!
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My boyfriend and I had just spent three wonderful weeks in the Philippines and were standing in line at the Manila airport, ready to check into our flight to Hanoi, Vietnam.
We had a 10-day itinerary planned in Vietnam to put an end to our Southeast Asia vacation. Our plane tickets were purchased months in advance, so we were sure it would be smooth sailing to our next destination.
After waiting in line, we finally arrive at the check-in counter and hand our passports over to the teller. She looks at our passports, and hands one of the passports over to her coworker, they engage in brief conversation– too soft-spoken for us to hear, and turns back to me with a concerned look on her face. Then, she says something, so heart-crushing…
Umm, what?!?! The six-month validity rule was something new to me. We had flown into the Philippines with no issues. We already booked a return flight home from Vietnam to the United States. WHY do exactly six months make a difference?
My passport expired beginning of October 2019, and our travel date was at the end of April 2019. We were only talking about two weeks! My boyfriend and I argued with the teller for quite some time. And asked if there was ANYTHING we could do to get on our flight.
We quickly discovered there was no way we were boarding this plane—it was nine o’clock at night, now stuck in Manila, Philippines.
I made a travel mistake—I entered the Philippines because, at that time, my passport still had six months, but while abroad my passport exceeded the six-month mark. Therefore, we were unable to fly to Vietnam.
Dustin and I talked about just cutting our trip short and booking a flight directly back to the States. We even considered going to the Vietnam embassy for an emergency visa but realized there wasn’t anything they could do–it was my US passport that was the issue.
That night we booked a last-minute hotel relatively close to the airport. We spent hours researching quick passport renewal options so we could fix this mistake and continue with our travels.
We were fortunate enough to be a short taxi ride from a United States embassy. Because of our situation, the US granted me an emergency passport, valid for one full year.
These issued emergency passports help you continue your trip until you can get back to the United States and officially renew.
This rule is a requirement from most countries when accepting foreign travelers.
Generally, passports should have at least six months of validity when traveling internationally. The six-month validity rule forbids travelers from crossing the country’s border.
This rule is put in place because nations do not want to risk tourists overstaying their passport’s expiration date.
Airlines STRICTLY enforce this rule. If the airline flies you to a country denying you entry, they are responsible for flying you home. For this reason, boarding a plane is forbidden if your passport does not have a six-month cushion.
Unfortunately, this rule is something airlines will rarely mention to you when you’re booking your flights. These airlines will seldom give you a refund if you show up to the airport with an invalid passport! It’s seen as YOUR mistake for not researching in advance!
So, what can you do to prevent making this same travel mistake? RENEW! Pay attention to your passport expiration date and make sure it doesn’t exceed your trip by AT LEAST six months.
The US embassy recommends if your passport is within a year of expiration, it’s best to renew and avoid the hassle. That way, you’ll avoid any issues while at the airport.
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