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In theory, passport validity shouldn't be a big deal for travelers. Even if your passport expires during your travels, you can usually get a fresh passport very quickly from a consulate and many countries allow one to travel back home on an expired passport. Logically this means that countries should require that passports are valid up to the expected date of departure, but not any longer. But in practice the rules are more stringent - for example in the Schengen area the rule is "day of departure + 3 months":

Passports must be valid for at least three months beyond your planned date of departure from the Schengen area .

Three months beyond the date of departure seems highly excessive, at least for citizens of countries such as the US where the local consulates are highly reliable. Why is this the case?

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    Reissuing passport at a consulate is not at all easy or given or cheap. Neither for the travelers nor the countries. Weren't you the one asking about the Israeli mofa strike? Just one example
    – littleadv
    Jan 20 at 9:18
  • @littleadv Israel was still issuing emergency documents during the strike, valid for returning to Israel.
    – JonathanReez
    Jan 20 at 12:57
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    That's not the same as a passport.
    – littleadv
    Jan 20 at 19:17
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    It does matter. For example your traveler, while Israeli citizen, doesn't actually live in Israel. Can they travel back home with that emergency passport? Does Germany care if an Israeli transits from the US to Russia with such a document? It probably does. So sure, they can be deported, but leaving according to plan may be an issue. That's true even with a lost passport, but at least that would be an exception, not part of the plan.
    – littleadv
    Jan 20 at 20:56

2 Answers 2

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Logically this means that countries should require that passports are valid up to the expected date of departure, but not any longer.

This is a form of a grace period to deal with unexpected situations.

Three months beyond the date of departure seems highly excessive, at least for citizens of countries such as the US where the local consulates are highly reliable.

The United States requires 6 months 'beyond the initial period of contemplated stay in the United States'.

Exceptions exist for some countries that allow their citizens to return with an expired passport.

Why is this the case?

The goal is to avoid peaple becoming stranded.

many countries allow one to travel back home on an expired passport.

And some countries are very uncooperative in allowing their own citizens back if their passport is not valid or refuse to issue replacements when lost.

The article below reports that Germany made official diplomatic complaints to 17 countries about this in 2016.

In the mean time Readmission Agreements have been made with many of them, but often does not work if the citizenship is in dispute (no or 'lost' passport).

2016-02-23: Flüchtlinge: Diese Staaten widersetzen sich Abschiebungen - WELT (in German)


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  • Where "some countries" is a pretty long list, which looks like it includes the entire EU and Schengen area. Shame most of them don't reciprocate. Jan 22 at 19:37
  • @PeterGreen European Agreement on Regulations governing the Movement of Persons between Member States of the Council of Europe of 1957-12-13 Article 5 Each Contracting Party shall allow the holder of any of the documents mentioned in the list drawn up by it and embodied in the Appendix to this Agreement to re-enter its territory without formality even if his nationality is under dispute. Based on this, I fail to see how your comment has any relevance at all. Jan 23 at 2:43
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To add to the accepted answer: I think you are assuming too much. Think about passport of small countries.

Do the consular office of country X in country Y offer renewals? Note: it is a matter of country X not country Y, so country Y may not know all rules and all changes. And so you have a problem. And often passports are sent from abroad, so it takes time

Passports have a validity. So police should accept an expired passport? (In Europe we had the 5 extra year validity). Note: if a traveler didn't have time (or just check) passport validity, why should such traveler do it in the foreign country. (but business travelers, trade agents, and may not stay enough long on home country).

Is it easy to reach a consular office? You do not find consular offices on all cities. On a large country it may be far away (assuming there are one in the country), and you may need to reach it in person (so not easy if you had an accident). E.g. Australia doesn't have consular office on all European countries.

Also tracking purpose: you enter with one passport number and exit with an other, so you may enter wrongly on illegal immigrant list (or just people to watch), so extra costs for nothing.

I think also a why not? may be an answer: cheap and safe measure. And if there is a reason (worker, tourism of nearby countries), the validity passport rule is lifted, as the 5 extra year in Europe (unrelated to EU rules). It doesn't seem that making travels easier is a priority on most countries.

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  • I think your 5 years rules need more explanation, I am Dutch, when my passport expires it expires. I do not know how/when those 5 years work.
    – Willeke
    Jan 22 at 11:13
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    I think you can use it as identification document in various countries. IIRC France, Italy, Germany had such rule. Jan 22 at 13:03
  • @Willeke Some EU citizens can enter Turkey with a passport expired less than 5 years ago (or their ID) Jan 23 at 19:07

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