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I have reservations on El Al to travel from JFK to Israel on July 5th and return on July 15th.

My US passport expires on January 10, 2016.

The airline told me that they would not let me board because Jan 10 is less than 6 months from July 15th,

At various times El Al customer service reps and a supervisor said it was due to a TSA regulation, a US State Department Regulation, and an Israel requirement. I checked with those sources and was told they have no such requirement, but that some airlines do.

Why would an airline require a passport 6 months after the last date of travel?

Should I jump through the hoops (and spend the money) to get an expedited passport renewal, or just show up at the airport?

  • Recently I was told the 6 month deadline is a requirement of icao.int but I did not find it on their website. Another source said it was a requirement of iata.org but I could not find it on their website either. – Yehuda_NYC Jun 24 '15 at 19:57
  • I ended up jumping through the hoops. See travel.stackexchange.com/questions/49927/… – Yehuda_NYC Sep 4 '15 at 20:30
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According to travel.state.gov, the rule is somewhat vague:

Although the Israeli government does not require that a passport be valid for six months from the date of entry, airlines routinely do so and may decline boarding if a traveler has less than six months validity on his or her passport.

If you think there is a risk of being denied boarding by your airline, it might be worth trying to get a written statement from the airline stating their policy on passport validity. For example, if the rule they apply is "valid for six months from entry", then you're fine based on the date your passport expires. If the rule is "valid for six months from planned departure", then you're not. Once you get a written statement (as long as it means you can board), bring that with you to airline checkin in case there is any question.

Other unofficial pages have differing views on the topic. From goisrael.com:

All visitors to Israel must hold a passport that is valid for at least six months from the date they are departing the country.​​​​​​

From World Travel Guide:

To enter Israel, a passport valid for a minimum of six months from the date of entry is required by the nationals referred to in the chart above.

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    goisrael.com appears to be an official site of the Israeli Ministry of Tourism. Granted, their opinion on the subject is less important than that of whichever ministry is responsible for deciding to admit travelers, but still, it's not exactly unofficial. – phoog Jun 23 '15 at 22:50
  • @phoog: Good point, I hadn't noticed that it was quasi-official. – Greg Hewgill Jun 23 '15 at 22:58
  • The lack of precision and agreement on official websites are hard to believe, much less understand. In any case, how likely is it that I have a problem if I show up at the airport with my present passport? Will the airport personnel be reasonable? – Yehuda_NYC Jun 23 '15 at 23:01
  • @Yehuda_NYC the airport personnel will almost certainly be reasonable; unfortunately for you, reason dictates that they should deny boarding. If they transport you to Israel, and you are refused entry, they will be liable for a fine, presumably of significant proportions. – phoog Jun 23 '15 at 23:11
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    @Yehuda_NYC I agree with all your points, but I continue to doubt that you can get the airline to board you with your current passport. In other words, I doubt you'll get them to agree. Please do let us know if you are able to do so. – phoog Jun 23 '15 at 23:35
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They can turn refuse to let you board if they wish, but I have heard from multiple frequent travelers that they really don't care. Overall El Al is known to be rather relaxed about official regulations as long as you aren't suspicious... Border control can also always issue you a shorter time period entry permit.

I have a friend that just arrived in Israel on a US passport that isn't good for 6 months and no one said anything to them at all.

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    @phoog other airlines might really make an issue, but elal was no problem. – andrewmh20 Sep 27 '15 at 9:42

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