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Is Your Passport Valid for Travel? 2 January 13

Posted by Jonathan V. Phillips in Passport.
Tags: , ,

Passport Valid

More and more travel requires a passport. Even standard domestic flights inside the US will require a real id to board the plane in a few days. But there are a numerous issues that can make an apparently valid  passport, not valid. Here is a quick primer on what to look for to make sure your passport will get you on to the plane and through to your destination.

Passport Condition

Passports that are ripped, worn out or have faulty lamination can be an issue. The most common of these “mutilated passports”, as designated by the State Department, are passports that have gone through the wash. Other common examples of mutilated passports include  loose or missing covers, water-damaged pages, or peeling plastic coating on the photo page. Mutilated passports aren’t just invalid for travel; they no longer count as valid proof of US citizenship. Mutilated passports can cause issues at foreign consular offices when applying for visas, can be cause for denial of entry into a foreign country and can cause issues upon reentry into the US by immigration officials. G3 recommends the use of a clear plastic passport cover to protect the passport from wear and returns passports sent in with a new cover if they don’t already have one.

The process to correct a mutilated passport book is to apply for a new passport. The process is different from a standard passport renewal in that the applicant must have their documents verified and sealed by a designated US post office or at a county clerk’s office and write a statement about the mutilation.   Written instructions on how to replace a mutilated passport are available for download.

Check the Pages

A passport can be deemed full even if there appears to be blank pages in it. A truly valid blank passport page has the word “visas” printed on the top.  Passport pages near the back of the passport that have  “Amendments” or “Endorsements” printed on the top are  reserved for official modifications and are technically not valid for entry stamps and visas. Although many countries may not have an issue with stamping these pages, many countries do make a point of rejecting them as valid visa pages.  Some countries, such as South Africa, require applicants to have two blank pages next to each other.

The process to add additional pages into a passport booklet is one of the simplest of all passport procedures. The State Department’s Passport Office can sew in a new set of pages up to two times before they require the applicant to go through the renewal process, which has a new passport book issued.  There are times when the Passport Office won’t add any extra pages and demands a passport renewal. Usually these are cases where the passport is about to expire or there are multiple sets of pages already added to the passport. The decision is at the discretion of the Passport Office. The written instructions detailing the process are available for download.

The Six Month Rule

A passport must have at least six months validity left on it prior to departure. This regulation known as the Six Month Rule, is the cause of many trips being cancelled at the airport at check in. All too often, we receive frantic calls from the airport from travelers who have been denied boarding because their passport is too close to its expiration date. Almost every country in the world follows the “six month rule,” meaning that your passport must be valid for six months after your planned departure from the country. It is recommend to know when your passport is about to expire and have it renewed when it nears the six-month mark. Passports can be renewed prior to their expiration date.

Renewing an adult passport is a simple process. Assuming the expiry date is not more than five years past, applicants don’t have to go through the same process as a new passport. Written instructions detailing the process are available for download. We’ve noticed that the rule seems to effect minors more so than adults, as their passports only have a five year validity and parents are unaware. Many times parents take their kids to the airport, only to find out that the children can’t fly. Minor passports are not renewed like adult passports. The process is a bit more involved. The minor passport process is documented in detail in the downloadable instructions.

Questions regarding the validity of a passport can be addressed to our passport expert at passports@g3visas.com.


1. http://tinyurl.com/edmomason34546 - 7 February 13

This particular blog post, “Is Your Passport Valid
for Travel? g3insider” was in fact outstanding. I’m printing out a copy to present my personal friends.
Many thanks,Benny

Jonathan V. Phillips - 8 February 13

Thanks for the kind words. If there is any travel topic that you have an interest in let us know.
All the best,

Jonathan Phillips

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