Passport Question

This might be a stupid question, but I would appreciate the help anyway, because I am trying to avoid as many problems as possible :) I am traveling to Europe this summer for 6 weeks, and my passport expires June 2009. I know that it's okay to use my old passport because it's valid until over a year after my trip, but is there any advantage to getting a new one (they have chips now, etc.... right?)? I didn't know if having a newer one would make air travel between countries any easier.

thanks for any advice/opinions!

Posted by Ellen
Centennial, CO, USA
1391 posts

As I remember it...as long as your passport is good for at least 6 months after your return, you are good.

Right now it's taking up to 10 weeks to get passports...not a good time to try to renew if you are leaving soon...why take the chance? Also, with the cost to renew...let it get closer...you have almost 2 years worth of travel on your current passport.

I'd renew early 2009 if you plan travel that year.

Posted by Michael Schneider
New Paltz, NY
6828 posts

Actually for most countries in Western Europe, your passport only has to have 3 months validity. It used to be 6 months, but it was changed a couple of years ago.

Posted by Helen
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
705 posts

I've just returned from a couple of weeks in Italy and my passport was only looked at once in a very offhand manner on arrival. I also remember last year in Switzerland pretty much the same thing. It's nothing like what you experience in the US or me in Aust. I wouldn't worry about a new one now.

Posted by Debra
Los Angeles, CA, USA
1001 posts

Thanks all, you have relieved my concerns. I just wasn't sure if having a new one would make travel easier.

But if you all say no, I will trust you!

Thanks again.

Posted by Kate
Scotland
505 posts

No country requires an imbedded chip - which very, very few passports these days have - you just need to have a machine scannable passport. This includes almost all passports issued in the past decade.

I was in Australia last fall and there was no need for a chip - as long as you'd done your online visa before you left and had a valid passport, there were no problems. In Europe, they will either just look at the passport and/or scan the barcode bit on the picture page. You generally won't be checked at all in the Schengen Union, only when flying to or from UK/Ireland/Eastern Europe/non-EU countries.

Kate

Posted by Paul n Sara
Newburyport, MA
683 posts

As we understand it, there are a few countries that require passports with chips embedded (Australia comes to mind) , This is bcuz the US now requires such electronically-scannable documents of non-US citizens.
No Euro country has such a requirement.

Posted by Andreas
Frankfurt am Main, Germany
2511 posts

European countries welcome their visitors from all around the world. You won't experience anything like that hassle of having to go thru US customs. You will be perfectly fine with your passport. Enjoy your trip!

Posted by Erik
Chandler, AZ, USA
112 posts

The US is the only requires them for member nations of the Visa Waiver program (effective Oct 26, 2006). Foreign travelers from those 27 nations entering the US without one will need a visa otherwise. Otherwise, few countries even issue such passports, and there is a standard logo that should be on the cover if they do. Malaysia has had them for years, and they actually record entries and exits. Most, like the US ones, only contain the same personal data and photo printed on the passport. Huge security concerns, UK passport encryption was hacked in 48 hours and researchers have cloned a RFID e-passport while still in a padded postal envelope. The US is the only country I know that is placing a thin layer of metal in them to prevent such skimming, and are allegedly only readable when open. Smart chips would have been far more secure than RFID for personal information but then what do I know?

Posted by Erik
Chandler, AZ, USA
112 posts

To clarify: The US requires citizens of Visa Waiver nations to have an e-passport IF the passport was issued on or after Oct 26, 2006. Passports issued prior to this must be machine readable - that nifty little number line along the bottom, basically. Having a machine readable passport allows you to do self-checkin for some international flights in places like London or Dublin.

Posted by Martha
Charlotte, NC, USA
2 posts

Dear Debra,

I would not try to get a passport right now if it isn't needed. If someone is getting one, my suggestion is that if you are already a ticketed passenger, send a copy of the ticket. Right now a million people are trying to get passports. We had trouble because of a name change. Next time we will know you need to include a court order that has raised stamp when you send in your documents. We showed the person at the post office, but since it wasn't sent in, the passport was rejected and took another 6 weeks.

The best place to get a passport is at an official passport office.

I have also heard, make copies of your passport, and store them somewhere in your luggage as a backup. We are bringing two copies of each passport.

Posted by Erik
Chandler, AZ, USA
112 posts

Ann - Depends where you're going, but most everywhere wants a minimum of 90 days validity, and most actually require 6 months validity. (I can't recall where, and none are in the EU I don't believe, but some countries even require 9 or 12 month validity.) So basically, get the passport renewed ASAP! You'll have pay to expedite due to the 10 week backlog now.