6

Basically, if you check here: http://www.uspassporthelpguide.com/six-months-validity-rule/

It says: It simply means that your passport should be valid for more than six months before you would be allowed to enter a foreign destination.

Does this mean I have to wait 6 months after obtaining my US passport before I can travel there?

5

No.

It means that the passport should be valid for at least 6 months when you enter the country. But usually the rule is that on the day you leave the country you passport should be valid for at least another 6 months.

  • @NiCkNewman Why would this be the case that would screw up people renewing the passports. – Karlson Jun 19 '15 at 18:25
  • In the link provided there was really the passport needs to be validated 6 months before the travel. It is very rare, I always thought it was a mistake. – Willeke Jun 19 '15 at 18:28
  • @Willeke Are you aware of any cases where a passport needs to be valid for at least 6 months prior to travel being authorized or visa being issued? I know what the link says. – Karlson Jun 19 '15 at 18:29
  • Read the list in the link provided, Albania, Namibia, New Caledonia, (Nicaragua, currently waived by bilateral agreement) I have not met it before but I would not bet it is not true. – Willeke Jun 19 '15 at 18:33
  • Albania states nothing of the sort: embassyofalbania.org – Karlson Jun 19 '15 at 18:34
3

If you received your brand new passport and its validity starts today, you can travel today. If your passport is valid for ten years, then some countries require a passport that remains valid for further six months after entering. So in nine years, six months, and one day from now, some countries might not allow you to enter with your passport that becomes invalid within six months.

The reason is that for whatever reason, you might stay longer than planned. Say an accident and you stay in hospital, you get arrested for punching someone, or whatever reason. With six months validity of your passport, the risk that you stay until your password is invalid is minimal. If you went on a one week holiday with a one week valid passport, even just a small damage on the airplane, or oversleeping if your flight back is in the morning, might mean that your passport is invalid by the time you leave.

BTW. The passport guide mentions six months, which some countries have, but many countries will require at least three months, so don't wait too long renewing your passport.

2

As other answers already explained, it does not mean you have to wait before travelling but that your passport must still be valid for some time when you return. So what you need to worry about is not the beginning but the end of your passport's period of validity.

Additionally, while your quote doesn't explain it clearly, those rules typically apply only to foreign nationals. So as a US citizen, you can (re)enter the US at any time, even on your passport's last day of validity, but you might not be able to enter another country if your passport is soon to expire.

As far as the US is concerned, you can leave and reenter at any time provided you have a valid passport.

  • 2
    +1, but in fact the citizen's right to enter the country is more powerful than the requirement to have a valid passport, so while there is a law that says pretty much exactly what your last paragraph says (8 USC 1185(b)), it's also possible for a US citizen to enter the US without a valid US passport in some circumstances. (I know you know this, but I'm posting this for the benefit of others who might not.) – phoog Jan 31 at 17:38

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