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I read in one of the answers on this site that people who are travelling to their country of citizenship do not need to have their passports valid for more than six months. Can someone point me to an official reference for this, please? I cannot find any on the Internet. In case it matters, the place to which I am travelling is Hong Kong.

More context: a couple of weeks after buying my air tickets, the airline e-mailed me a reminder of my flight with the previously unseen condition "ensure that your passport has at least a six months [sic] validity" without any conditional clause. So I am worried that the airline may not let me board the plane.

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    The point of these requirements is to ensure that passports are still valid for the traveler to return to the country of citizenship if the anticipated stay is unexpectedly extended. So if the country of citizenship required the passport to be valid for an extra six months, everyone else would be asking for twelve months. That said, I couldn't figure out how to get a positive response from iatatravelcentre.com, though it looks like it has more to do with COVID-19 than with passport validity.
    – phoog
    May 28 at 17:33
  • If you live in A but are a citizen of B, it will be easier for you to get from A to B - but you should make sure that you can return to A without problems as well.
    – gnasher729
    Jun 7 at 17:51

2 Answers 2

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The "official reference" is Timatic, since that is the database which airlines use to decide whether you're allowed to enter your country of destination. In this case, the rules say:

Passports and other documents accepted for entry must be valid for a minimum of 1 month beyond the period of intended stay.

Exception: Hong Kong (SAR China) passport must be valid on arrival.

So you're allowed to enter Hong Kong as long as your HK passport is valid on the day of arrival.

However, the airline might have its own rules about who they want to transport, for instance somewhere in their conditions of carriage, so it would be best to get confirmation from an airline employee that they will let you board.

Edit: If you prefer a more official-looking source, the website of United Airlines also has a free Timatic Interface, which will give you the same information as the Emirates site but with the Timatic logo at the bottom.

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    Airlines will confirm requirements, but they won't confirm that someone will be allowed to board unless that person has actually presented the necessary documents or unless the employee providing the confirmation is poorly trained.
    – phoog
    May 28 at 18:00
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    Thank you, Mophotla. The Emirates webpage you linked to states that the information is sourced from "an external provider", and it does not mention Timatic. Since I am not flying Emirates, it would perhaps be safer to have some source that states explicitly the information is from Timatic. (I assume it costs to access Timatic directly, in addition to other potential technical difficulties?)
    – akk
    May 29 at 1:15
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    The problem about the airline is that the conditions that I see before I buy the air tickets and the conditions that are publicly available do not explicitly mention this six-month rule at all: it is only stated that I need a valid passport (which I do), and cannot appear to be "improperly documented". Seeing the six-month rule in a reminder e-mail one week before my flight was thus a shock. Anyway, this is probably topic for a separate question.
    – akk
    May 29 at 1:29
  • @akk Indeed, the regular Timatic interface costs money to access, and some airlines (such as Emirates) offer a reduced version for free as a courtesy. If you want an explicit Timatic source, how about the United Airlines Timatic interface? This gives you the exact same information, but with the Timatic logo at the bottom. To be honest I don't think Emirates would impose a stricter rule than Hong Kong itself, and the six months they mention is probably boilerplate text because that happens to be the validity requirement to enter the UAE.
    – Mophotla
    Jun 2 at 18:30
  • In any case, it would be great if you could come back after your trip and give an update about what happened!
    – Mophotla
    Jun 2 at 18:31
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If you are a full citizen of country A, and are on a non-stop flight to country A, then your passport can expire on the day of landing and you will be fine. As a citizen you have a general right of entry, and your passport becomes unnecessary the moment you cross the border so wether it is valid tomorrow is a non-issue. I have entered my own country of citizenship several times with a passport that was expired for several years with zero problems - the only comment was "are you going to renew it this trip?".

Citizen entry to some countries, for example the USA, do not even require a passport. The problem then is getting on the plane without documents. This corner case depends on the country's constitution/ declaration of rights (if any) and legal history.

If your route changes planes in country B, then you need to examine the entry requirements for B. There may be different rules for entry vs. transit, and "transit" may have limitations like same day and same airport. Or even same terminal - Heathrow terminal 5 is one that comes to mind, they built it specifically so that transit passengers don't need to interact with UK immigration at all.

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    Thank you, Peter. As stated in my question, I am actually looking for an "official reference" for this (that I can show the airline staff when challenged at the check-in counter).
    – akk
    May 29 at 9:43
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    Valid-on-arrival passport for citizens is global. You won't have any problems. The check-in staff see this on a daily basis.
    – peter
    May 29 at 9:49
  • Thank you. I hope everything will be fine.
    – akk
    May 29 at 12:10
  • Regarding the "reminder e-mail" - that email is the same text for everyone. They certainly did not look at your details and customize the message. "Six months validity" covers all countries, in all cases. Everything else is handled at check-in.
    – peter
    May 30 at 1:21

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