I am an EU national married to a US citizen with a son under 2 years old, who has dual citizenship (my home EU country + US). We all reside in Switzerland, which is not part of EEA, but is part of Schengen, and have valid residency permits (which for my spouse functions also as a Schengen visa as far as I understand).

Our son's American passport is a 'temporary' 1-year old passport. He does not have an EU passport yet.

Recently my spouse and son went to visit family in the US while I stayed home. They flew directly from Switzerland and had no issues boarding the inbound flight, even though my son passport's validity expires in less than 6 months from the return date.

During their return trip 2 weeks later, the airline's check-in desk staff refused to issue boarding passes, citing my son's passport expiry date as the reason. They suggested having a new passport issued (which due to my absence would not be possible). Eventually due to my spouse's persistence they let them on board, but I would like to know if the airline's stance was justified, as I already started having thoughts of my family being stuck in an administrative limbo until I flew to the US to have my son's passport renewed (where I can also be denied entry to make matters more interesting).

The question I have is:

  • Is it true that in this case (return flight to the country of residency) the airline could get fined ~$20k or was it just ignorance of the airline's staff, applying a blanket US -> Schengen travel rule?

If they were right, what is the legal framework for such denial of boarding (I guess it must be entry rules for Switzerland/Schengen)?

closed as too broad by Giorgio, Newton, choster, Willeke Jul 24 '18 at 19:17

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • US citizens do not need additional passport validity to be boarded on a flight to the US; the passport only needs to be valid on the date of arrival. That explains why your son was allowed to fly to the US. I would think that passport validity rules would not apply to someone with a valid residence permit; they normally apply only to visitors. For example, the Schengen passport validity rule applies only to "intended stays...of no more than 90 days in any 180-day period." But Swiss law controls this; I don't know what it says. You should be able to renew your son's US passport in Switzerland. – phoog Apr 18 '18 at 19:28
  • It's also not necessary for you to appear in person to apply for your son's passport; see travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/…. Further to the previous comment, you don't need to apply in the US; you could also go to Bern. See usembassy.gov/switzerland. Lyon and Milan are other options that might be more convenient, depending on your location in Switzerland. – phoog Apr 18 '18 at 19:34
  • Does your son have a valid "Ausländerausweis" (Foreigner Identification Card) for switzerland? If so, they can't refuse entry. – Daan van Hoek Apr 19 '18 at 15:20
  • 1
    A U.S. citizen has the right to enter the U.S. Even the passport is expiring today the airline can't refuse the U.S. citizen from returning to the U.S. – Michael Tsang May 18 '18 at 9:41
  • VTC: OP has not returned since the initial question, which is difficult to answer absent the clarifying info requested via comments. – Giorgio Jul 23 '18 at 18:56

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