Please sign in to post.

Passport '6 Month Rule' Question

Hello All,

I have a question regarding an upcoming trip I have planned and the '6 month rule' and I'm having a hard time finding an answer. I will be going on a cruise to Greece that departs from Rome, Italy and will have a brief layover in Germany on my way there.

I depart on 7/25 (next Thursday) and am returning to the U.S. on 8/4. My passport expires on 2/21/20. Every resource I can find (state dept.'s website, airline's website, cruise's website) all state that my passport needs to be valid for at least 6 months after my return date. Well 2/21/20 is 6 months and 2 weeks after my return date of 8/4/19.

Technically that does meet the requirements listed everywhere I can find, but with that being so close to the 6 month cutoff, I just want to confirm that I will be let into Germany, Italy & Greece (Schengen area) on my current passport, or if I need to rush and make a last minute appointment to renew my passport in the week before I leave.

I checked with my airline (Lufthansa), who advised me to enter my passport info on IATA's travel centre website, and that told me that my current documentation should be accepted, However I definitely want to confirm that. I reached out to the State Dept, and Royal Caribbean, who both said they cant comment on specifics and just mentioned the 6 month rule, and they advised me to reach out to the embassies & consulates of the countries I am visiting.

This has turned into a long search for what I thought would be a simple answer. I am turning to the collective wisdom of the internet and more experienced travelers who may have some insight. Should I be good to go? Am I overthinking all this?


Posted by
9079 posts

The state department is wrong. Countries within the Schengen zone have a three month validity rule.
So your current passport is kosher.

From the German Consulate: "US citizens in possession of a valid US passport (on the planned date of departure from Germany, your passport should have at least another three months validity)" (

From the Italian Consulate: "Your passport should be valid for at least 3 months upon conclusion of your trip" (

From the Greek Consulate: " The passport shall be valid for at least three months after the intended date of your departure from the Schengen area " (

Posted by
22983 posts

First,, the validity of your passport for entry into a country is determined by that country. They can make any rule they want and can enforce any rule. You don't have an automatic right to entry any country. While most countries are good with a three month rule, conventional advice tends to focus on six months since that provides a small pad of extra time should you be hospitalized or your departure from that country is delayed. From what you described, you should be OK. We always renew our passports at roughly the 9 to 12 month mark. It is just easier that way.

Posted by
8889 posts

I concur. Here it is on the EU website:

If you are a non-EU national wishing to visit or travel within the EU, you will need a passport:
- valid for at least 3 months after the date you intend to leave the EU country you are visiting,
- which was issued within the previous 10 years,

This is the authority that makes this rule, US government websites are just "heresay"

You can stay for up to 90 days, so worst case your passport needs to be valid for 90 days+3 months = 6 months after your arrival date. In your case you are staying for less.

It will be the airline check-in desk who will check this frist. They will not let you on your flight without a valid pasport. They will see your return flight on 4th August (4/8/2019 European notation), so as long as your passport is valid to 4th November (4/11/2019) you are OK.
"I checked with my airline (Lufthansa), . . . told me that my current documentation should be accepted" - Confirmed

Posted by
11065 posts

It is very late to try and get a new passport with your flight on 7/25, but we do what Frank does and never get to that point. We renew about a year out when we are conveniently between trips. Why risk a problem over the renewal fee?

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you all for the prompt replies, opinions, thoughts & great answers, I definitely appreciate it. I also received a very nice reply from the German Consulate on this:

As your passport will be valid for more than 6 months after your departure from the Schengen area there shouldn’t be any problems from a legal point of view. I would, however, recommend to carry your flight booking with you to prove to the airline and immigration officer in Germany that you will leave the Schengen area 6 months before your passport expires.

Nevertheless, I would like to point out that airlines have the right to refuse a passenger if they are worried that he/she will not meet the requirements to enter the Schengen area and that we can’t make any predictions whether or not an airline will refuse service to you.

So I Should be good to go, but an overzealous airline employee could of course change that but I guess thats always true.

Thanks again!

Posted by
9079 posts

You're welcome.
It actually started to become an issue when airlines started using the self check-in kiosks. They are programmed to check each and every traveler for passport validity. Back in days when humans were doing the works they mostly didn't bother for most passengers. The check-in kiosks use the IATA database you were referring to above. So if the web version of it says you're good, you shouldn't have a problem at the airport.

Posted by
2224 posts

Since your passport is good for longer than 6 months I would think that you will be o.k. I have seem twice in recent months accounts by people who were rejected with a passport with less than 3 months validity remaining

Posted by
1207 posts

You should be ok, but I have seen people not be allowed on flights for this. I always give myself extra time because I don't want to have to worry about it.

Posted by
4489 posts

You'll be fine. You meet the time stipulations. This is black and white: you either meet them or you don't. There is no "close to", and no overzealous ticket agent is going to second guess the regulations.

Posted by
884 posts

Do yourself a favor when you return and get your passport renewed before Jan. When we did ours in Dec a couple of years ago our post-mistress said it was smart because they get so many early in a new year that it always takes longer for the state department to process. Ours came back within 2 weeks.

Posted by
10513 posts

and no overzealous ticket agent is going to second guess the regulations.

Well, that assumes the ticket agent knows and understands the regulations

Hindsight being 20/20, renewing the passport before this trip would have saved some heartburn. Its OK to squeeze every little drip out of a tube of toothpaste, but for passports, not the ideal situation

Happy travels

Posted by
4265 posts

Since you mentioned contacting the US State Department, here is the online information they provide for each of the countries you mention:

PASSPORT VALIDITY: Three months beyond planned date of departure from the Schengen area

PASSPORT VALIDITY: Must have at least six months validity remaining beyond your planned date of departure from the Schengen area.

PASSPORT VALIDITY: Six months of remaining validity recommended.

The US State Department also advises:
Make sure you receive a stamp in your passport when you enter and exit the Schengen area.

Your passport exceeds all the listed "must have" and "recommended" requirements for the countries you mention.

Posted by
8889 posts

Yes Social, but all those countries are in the Schengen Area. Exactly the same rules apply for foreigners entering all of them.
If the US Sate Department is quoting different rules for different Schengen countries, it proves it is not a reliable source of information.

If John (the OP) is travelling (somewhere outside Europe) --> Germany --> Italy --> Greece --> (somewhere outside Europe) , he will enter the Schengen Area when he arrives in Germany, and exit from Greece. In between there will be no official passport checks.
He will still need his passport as ID for airport check-ins (if flying to Italy), and for hotel check-in.

Posted by
4265 posts

Yes, true Chris F. And....If the stateside (outbound) passport checks are done according to the US State Department's website-posted rules..... whether accurate or not....he'll also be fine.

The good news is.... from every angle that we all have checked, he should be clear to travel!

Posted by
15110 posts

The outbound passport check for airline passengers is done automatically upon check-in, using the Timatic system:,D52,D51,d07_3a.pdf

It does not consult the US State Department information (some of which is incorrect). Nor does a cranky airline agent have any discretion to make the call. The passport validity date is checked against the legal requirements for the specific country of destination. There is no blanket “six month rule”, although some Asian countries, and maybe other non-European countries, do require 6 months beyond the date of exit. Schengen countries are uniform in requiring 3 months’ validity past the exit date. I believe for the U.K. is is less.

If you are flying on a one-way ticket, you may be flagged by the computer and required to show proof of departure date (a return flight ticket) to an agent. We always book one-way at a time (using miles), and I have never been asked about departure when flying to the UK or Europe (Italy, Germany, or Switzerland). We were asked for proof of departure when we flew to New Zealand from Australia.