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If my US passport expires in November of this year (2020), and I want to travel in the UK beginning in March, will I need to renew to be able to board a plane back? I may be returning as late as May or June, so my passport would expire within 6 months when returning to the US.

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    are you worried you need 6 months left on your US passport to return to the US? – Kate Gregory Jan 25 at 15:15
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    Yes, that's my worry! – Elizabeth Jan 25 at 15:24
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    Please confirm that you hold a US passport. Any requirement the US might have on a foreign visitor's passport being valid for 6 months after arrival does not apply to a US citizen or national traveling with a US passport. – Gerard Ashton Jan 25 at 15:41
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    YES, I HOLD A US PASSPORT. Can I get back into my country if my passport expires within 2 months of flying back into the US? – Elizabeth Jan 25 at 15:50
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    @Elizabeth of course you can, it's your country of citizenship. The 6 month passport expiration only applies (if it applies) when visiting other countries. For the sole purpose that that other country wants to make sure that after a holiday (which is normally no longer than 6 months, especially for visa free countries) you'll be able to return home (in this case the US). – kiradotee Jan 25 at 17:04
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You have an absolute right to enter the country of your citizenship. That's what citizenship means. They can punish you for lack of paperwork, but the punishment is civil, and can't include refusal to enter. However, they can detain you indefinitely while the proof of citizenship is obtained.

However, you cannot get on an airplane without proper documentation that meets the airline's and government's standard. So the "absolute right" is limited in practicality.

The passport needs to be merely "not expired" to fly home.

If you're doing a land crossing, an expired passport will work, but you should expect 5 lashes with a wet noodle.

If a citizen is doing a land crossing, a plain Real-ID, non-"enhanced" driver's license will also work, but expect 50 lashes with a wet noodle (comprising, in actuality, of some imposed delay and a stern lecture).

A citizen can show up at a land crossing with no documentation at all, but expect some delay while they confirm your identity. It will really help to have a good story.

I believe they have some actual civil penalties they can throw at you if you make a habit of it (they know).

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    Some countries accept you to enter with an expired passport, which is mostly useful for those who have more than one nationality and can travel on the other one. – Willeke Jan 25 at 16:52
  • "a plain, non-"enhanced" driver's license will also work": the degree of difficulty will vary depending on the traveler's ability to establish US nationality. Someone with a birth certificate or naturalization certificate would have a rather different experience from someone with no other documentation and a foreign accent. As to civil penalties, I'm not aware of any, but they're working on a regulation imposing a WHTI fee at land borders for travelers who lack WHTI-compliant documents. – phoog Jan 25 at 17:08
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    So if you cross the land border with no documentation at all there's no lashes with a wet noodle involved? Great news! – kiradotee Jan 25 at 17:10
  • @kiradotee Addressed. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jan 25 at 17:36
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    The "some delay" link concerns someone who was arrested at an internal immigration checkpoint, not entering the US, so it's not directly relevant. – phoog Jan 25 at 17:47
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The UK does not have any minimum passport validity requirement other than that your passport is valid for the duration of your visit:

You must also:

  • have a valid passport for the duration of your stay

You do not need to renew your passport for your proposed trip. Note that EU countries in the border free Schengen area do require 6 months validity for entry, but not for the whole proposed trip. Even if you want to visit France, for example, you don’t need to renew unless you enter less than 6 months before November.

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    The Schengen requirement is for three months of validity after the anticipated departure. A traveler with a passport expiring in three months and a week can enter the Schengen area for a one-week visit, provided its possible to convince the border officer that the visit really will be one week long. – phoog Jan 25 at 16:14
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You can return to the US as long as your passport is valid on the day of arrival. If your passport expires two months after you arrive, so much the better.

The US has a six month rule for the passports of certain foreign countries, but it does not apply to US passports. You should also check whether the countries you're visiting have similar rules. Many do, but the UK does not.

  • I really appreciate your input. Thank you for your time. – Elizabeth Jan 25 at 16:18

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