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Andrea Drever
By Andrea Drever

Content and Editorial Director


A friend found a great deal for an all-inclusive trip to Costa Rica. She rustled up a group of friends, packed her best bikinis, and, much to her dismay, wasn’t allowed on the plane. Because her passport was set to expire in less than three months. So despite the fact that she was the one who had planned this trip to paradise, her posse rode off into the sunset without her. Even savvy travelers can be snagged in this situation, and if you don’t want to be one of them, get clear on passport expiration policies.

How to Avoid Departure Disaster

Make sure your travel documents are valid for at least six months past the dates of any planned international trips. Since passports are valid for up to 10 years, it's easy to forget when exactly yours needs to be renewed. So go take a peek at your passport, pronto.

While the U.S. allows travelers to use a passport until the exact date listed on the front page, that isn’t the case for many other countries. For example, if you’re a U.S. citizen and want to check out the natural beauty of Costa Rica (as my friend’s friends ended up doing), your passport needs to be valid for another three months past your trip. Want to bask on the beach in Thailand? Six months.

To avoid getting grounded, check the State Department’s website for the specific requirements for different countries.

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