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Some countries require you to have six months remaining on your passport in order to visit. According to this list, Germany is not among them, but this note from the US State department says "U.S. citizens traveling on passports that expire in fewer than six months have increasingly been denied airline boarding or been detained upon arrival in certain foreign destinations, including popular European travel destinations in the Schengen area." This article echoes that.

The State Department's Schengen FAQ says "Some Schengen countries assume all travelers will stay the full three months allowed for visa-free visitors, meaning you may not be admitted unless your passport is valid for at least six months, regardless of the duration of your stay. This requirement may also apply if you are transiting a Schengen airport for several hours en route to a non-Schengen destination." Is Germany one of those countries?

Assume a US traveler planning to go to Germany for a few days with a passport that will be valid for more than three but less than six months after the return flight, with the departure flight too soon to go through the routine renewal process and be confident that a new passport would arrive prior to departure. Can the traveler wait until after the trip to do the renewal?

The Germany Page from the US State Department suggests the traveler can wait, but even that page is inconsistent about the number of blank pages required and the Embassy Messages link produces a 404 error, so the page is of questionable reliability.

  • This could be one of those "up to the immigration official" calls. Germany says 90 day validity beyond your outbound flight, so if your flight's schedule plus 90 is still within your passport's validity, you technically are OK. Question would be if the Immigration Official believes you will leave when you state. – user13044 Jan 8 '16 at 4:39
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    Ok this is what I see from the visa process Must be valid for at least 90 days beyond the return date of the trip to the Schengen Area. for a short duration visa for Germany applying from UK. Might be the same for applying from US too. – DumbCoder Jan 8 '16 at 9:21
  • This 6 month thing is, currently, the most hateful thing in the universe. – Fattie Nov 4 '18 at 15:40
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The rule is defined in article 5 of the Schengen Borders code:

  1. For intended stays on the territory of the Member States of a duration of no more than 90 days in any 180-day period, which entails considering the 180-day period preceding each day of stay, the entry conditions for third-country nationals shall be the following:

(a) they are in possession of a valid travel document entitling the holder to cross the border satisfying the following criteria:

(i) its validity shall extend at least three months after the intended date of departure from the territory of the Member States. In a justified case of emergency, this obligation may be waived;

(ii) it shall have been issued within the previous 10 years;

So a passport valid for more than three months after departure is fine, there is no six-month rule.

  • ...as long as Germany, like some Schengen countries, does not make the automatic assumption that every traveller's intended departure date is three months after arrival. – WBT Jan 8 '16 at 19:20
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    @WBT That's not what the word “intended” means, the rule is clear and I don't know what the State Department's FAQ is based on. But I obviously cannot guarantee that it never happens. – Relaxed Jan 8 '16 at 19:28
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I contacted the German embassy in Houston TX in April 2017 with this question because my passport would have expired 5.5 months after my visit. The reply was unequivocal: six months. "The passport has to be valid 6 months. Exceptions are made, but that is up to border patrol and we cannot guarantee anything." I chose to err on the side of caution and renew my passport before I had planned to.

  • 5.5 months after your entry or departure? If the former, what is or was the intended duration of your stay? – phoog Jun 12 '17 at 16:39
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    It's also worth noting that there is an answer, sadly now deleted, by someone who successfully used a passport expiring in October for a journey in May, with "no problems with airlines (Delta) or immigration officials regarding the passport." It may be that border officers in general apply the law more precisely than consular officers. – phoog Jun 12 '17 at 16:43
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The official information is that the US passport must be valid for three months beyond the period of your intended stay (three months after you leave).

Whether this is actively enforced or not in practise, I do not know. Erring on the safe side of course you should assume it will be enforced.

Information as of  08JAN16 / 1820 UTC
National USA (US)               /Embarkation USA (US)
Destination Germany (DE)
Germany (DE)

Passport required.
- Passports and other documents accepted for entry must be
valid for a minimum of 3 months beyond the period of
intended stay.
Passport Exemptions:
- Nationals of USA with an emergency passport.

Visa required, except for Nationals of USA for a maximum stay
of 90 days. (SEE NOTE 53546)
NOTE 53546: The max. stay is granted within 180 days.
Minors:
- Minors aged up to/incl. 15 years of age may be included in
the passport of a parent or guardian, provided

Additional Information:
- Valid visas in full or expired travel documents are accepted

- Nationals of USA with normal passports can extend their stay
in Germany by changing their status and applying for a
Residence Permit.
- Visitors are required to hold proof of sufficient funds to
cover their stay and documents required for their next
destination.
Warning:
- Passports must be signed by the holder. Passports without

- Passports and/or passport replacing documents issued more
than 10 years prior to date of travel are not accepted.

Germany (DE)

Vaccinations not required.

- ICAO: NON-MACHINE READABLE PASSPORTS
DEADLINE: 24 NOVEMBER 2015
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    There is text missing after "Passports without" and a source link would be nice :-) – WBT Jan 8 '16 at 18:24
  • @WBT The data are from TIMATIC through a private subscription feed. There are public sources for TIMATIC but the links to those do not seem to remain persistent. I am unsure why some of the data were chopped off. I will enquire with my provider about that. – Calchas Jan 8 '16 at 18:29
  • Thanks for the answer. Do you know what ICAO means at the end? – WBT Jan 8 '16 at 18:31
  • @WBT That's a news item I haven't read yet. It's a reminder that those holding non-machine readable passports may not be allowed entry notwithstanding any other visa regulations. ICAO is the International Civil Aviation Authority. Almost everyone has a machine-readable passport now (this is different from a chipped passport). – Calchas Jan 8 '16 at 18:32

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