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Passport Requirements - Help!

When I travel to Denmark/Germany in December, my US passport will have 4-5 months on it until expiration. That meets the 3 month Danish and German requirements. However, I am flying to Europe via Paris where I connect to flights to Copenhagen. The French, it turns out, require 6 months on a passport. Will I be prohibited from traveling and/or entering Europe? Should I pay expediting fees to get a new passport before I leave for my vacation?

Posted by
17940 posts

Call the airline or the French embassy. The airline will not let you board if you won't be let in. Since you will be entering the Schengen zone in Paris, you will have to go through immigration there.

Posted by
5203 posts

I would just renew now. Better safe than sorry.

Posted by
350 posts

I had this concern last fall. I was to enter France on October 11 and my passport would expire April 5. The US embassy in Paris said "You should have at least six months’ passport validity prior to the expiration date whenever you travel to France." I found the French embassy website with a statement that only three months would be required (see below). I decided, ultimately not to do the rush renewal, because we just decided if France didn't let us in, we would stay in England and have a story to tell. Another factor was that my daughter was doing study abroad and I didn't want to be without a passport while she was overseas in case there was an emergency. I took a printout of the French Embassy web page with me, but we had no issues. But, a big difference was that I entered by Eurostar where I only really had to deal with immigration personnel directly. You will have to deal with someone at a ticket counter in the US and if your airline says it's 6 months, they may not let you board the plane. Your stakes are higher... You might want to check with your airline since you are in the same gray area I was in.

Documents needed when entering France

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Whether or not you are required to obtain a visa before travelling, even if you are an American citizen, you may be requested to show the following elements to the French immigration officers upon arrival:

  • a valid passport (still valid 3 months after your expected return from France);

  • a return plane ticket (for a short stay only);

  • means of support during the stay (cash, credit cards, traveler cheques, etc.);

  • accommodation reservations or, for some visa holders only, an "attestation d’accueil."

Dernière modification : 28/05/2015

Posted by
3470 posts

Yes, pay the expediting fee and be sure you are "good to go". In view of the events in Paris yesterday, I'd expect a lot of really going by the book when it comes to things like this. As someone said, "better safe than sorry".

Posted by
350 posts

I guess the question is, what book are we going by? What the Embassy of France says - 3 months beyond your return? What the US state department says - 6 months beyond arrival date? These are two different requirements and no one that I can find has ever gotten a straight answer. I presume France to be the decision maker on who they allow to enter, but that won't matter if the airline doesn't agree.

nicoleclutterbox has to deal with her airline and since they hold all of the cards, only their opinion is going to matter in the end.

Posted by
11261 posts

Two important points made in replies above are worth emphasizing:

1) The airlines can be much stickier about your documents than an immigration officer. If you are not allowed into a country, not only do they have to fly you back at their expense, but they get a huge fine. So, if they are even the slightest bit unsure, they are more likely to refuse you (even if the country in question couldn't care less).

2) With the terror attacks in Paris yesterday and the re-institution of border checks going to and from France, it will be more important than before to err on the side of the strictest possible interpretation of the rules. Arguing with an immigration official ("But my papers are fine-really!! You HAVE to let me in") is never a good idea, but will likely be even less successful going forward.

For these reasons, I'd definitely just renew the passport now and not have to worry.

Posted by
6 posts

Entry requirement for France has changed from 3 months to 6 months shortly after terrorist attack in Paris last year, in addition, the French does not accept emergency passport issued by overseas US Consulates / Embassies. You should always double check before departure since every country could always change their entry requirement without any notice in advance.

Posted by
4522 posts

^^^ Bumped a post that is months old and the OP has already taken their trip.

Posted by
38 posts

And these posts are read by more than just the OP, so I am thankful it had been bumped. I had assumed that since my passport still had 5 months remaining before my 2 week trip, that there should be no problem. If it's valid, it's valid. Apparently this is not the case, after reviewing this post I researched further and confirmed that if your passport has less than 6 months validity, many countries will consider you a security risk and deny admission. Not sure how that suddenly makes me a risk, but what do I know. So renew I will.

I also read the concern here about having to return the old passport along with the renewal, as I also have a daughter abroad at the moment, and don't like the idea of not having the passport in case the need arises. So I will renew my passport first, and at least my wife can hold on to hers until mine gets returned, then I'll renew hers separately. The US states they will return the old one before the new one gets issues, so hopefully that will not take too long.

Thanks for all the information available on these forums.

Posted by
18752 posts

It may well be true that the old passport is returned separately from the new one (it's been awhile and I don't remember), but all of my old passports have come back with a hole punched in the cover. I have a feeling that renders them unusable.

Posted by
23 posts

Yes, the old ones do come back with a hole. However, I got my old passport back only a day before getting the new one. This was without expedited processing.

Posted by
38 posts

Wow, so basically I'm without a valid passport for 6 weeks, or 3 if I want to pay the extra $60. That stinks. But thanks for the updates everyone.