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Passport validity for Europe

My son and I are flying to Paris on June 25 and returning July 10. We travel by train to Switzerland (no planes) and back during that time. His passport expires January 6 2020. According to the Travel. State.Gov website France and Switzerland are both Schengen countries. When I elect France for more info it says passports must be valid 3 beyond departure from Schengen area. So far so good. Switzerland says passports must be valid 6 months beyond date of departure from Schengen area. Not so good. Because we leave Switzerland July 9 (albeit by train) that's cutting it close. Am I correct in assuming that because we fly from Paris the 3 month period governs? Because he is under 16 and we share custody it will be complicated to renew his passport. Anyone have some real world advice?

Thanks much

Posted by
21726 posts

Your passport will be check on arrival at Paris and on departure. There will be no reason for anyone in Switzerland to look at your passport. You should be fine. A bigger issue will be that you will need a letter from the father oking the travel.

Posted by
13096 posts

That seems very odd that Switzerland would depart from the Schengen standard, but no worries. No Swiss officials are going to see his passport.

Posted by
5869 posts

This topic comes up often. Yes, you can search and search, call embassies, know all the "rules" and regulations, but it all means squat if the Airline refuses you at check-in. They have a Carriage responsibility under International Travel Agreements to verify that your documents needed for travel are valid and good for a set time period. Some airlines apply a flat 6 month window, some use a database. So at the very least, call the airline and give them your dates. Some airlines (American and United I believe) have links on their websites to the database they use.

A valid point was brought up about a permission letter, another thing that could get you stopped at the airport. If you can get the letter, you can get a signature on a form for Passport renewal, that would be the safest.

Posted by
21726 posts

Paul, he is fine leaving the country in June with a Jan expiration. That is over six months. Coming back will not make any difference.

Posted by
445 posts

you have tons of time to renew - my new passport (i have had one before, it expired in 2001 however) is in the mail, just applied 2 weeks ago... that would definitely be your safest bet.

Posted by
8985 posts

From the Swiss Embassy website (http://tinyurl.com/y237cfaw):

"Regardless of their visa obligation status, third-country nationals wishing to enter Switzerland for a short-term stay not exceeding 90 days per 180-day period must be in possession of a travel document that:
will remain valid for at least three months after the intended date of departure from Switzerland; and
has been issued within the previous 10 years."

The current passport is kosher.

Posted by
6487 posts

I agree with the other poster who said that you have plenty of time for him to renew the passport now and then there are no worries. You don't have to wait until your passport expires to renew it, just do it now.

Posted by
5869 posts

I will just re-state, if you have a concern, call the airline. It appears you are fine, but they are the ones that would be a problem. I would discuss any other documents your son might need as well.

Posted by
524 posts

What airline are using to fly to / from France? I just ran the data through a portal that United provides that says the documents are good. If you are still concerned you need to contact your air carrier.

Posted by
935 posts

IMPORTANT - Make sure that the letter you have from your spouse regarding travel with your children is noterized by a public notary. I ran into this once takng my children to the Carribean and I had a letter signed by my wife but it wan't notarized so they wouldn't let us board in Houston. Eventually we got a letter that was notarized faxed to the airline and they allowed us to fly the the next day.

Posted by
613 posts

Also check the requirements of your airline. Some won't let you on the plane unless passport is good for 6 months

Posted by
21726 posts

His passport is good for over 6 months when boarding the plane to Europe. Lets not over think this.

Posted by
8889 posts

Another vote for the consensus.
The rule is 3 months validity past exit date from the Schengen Area. Unfortunately it is the airline at check-in who will check the passport first, occasionally some airline staff are ill-informed.
Passports will not be checked travelling between France and Switzerland by train (or by any other method where you stay on the ground).

Yes, get a document authorising him to travel with you. It will again be on departure you are most likely to hit a problem. immigration officials will take the attitude that a 16-year-old would not allow himself to be transported against his will.

Posted by
5869 posts

His passport is good for over 6 months when boarding the plane to Europe. Lets not over think this.

I would agree, that there is likely plenty of time on the passport, but directly from the Delta Website:

When you’re traveling outside of the United States, make sure you have all required travel documents. A passport is required for all international travel. Remember, the name on your boarding pass must match the name on your government-issued passport. In general, *your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the period of intended stay in a foreign country.** *

Potentially that means at least Delta might have some issues, I doubt it, but I would at least check and know before I show up at the airport and risk being refused boarding.

Posted by
21726 posts

What issues ??? The time between June 25 and Jan 6 is almost 6.5 months. Why are we trying scare these people????

Posted by
14 posts

I just went to Switzerland and left with 3 days before the 6 month period. Nobody cared. Came back a week later, nobody cared.

Posted by
8641 posts

In general, your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the period of intended stay in a foreign country.* *

The return date mentioned by jess is July 10, which is less than "at least six months beyond the period of intended stay"

What issues ??? The time between June 25 and Jan 6 is almost 6.5 months. Why are we trying scare these people????

I think folks are advising an abundance of caution, vs having an unhappy experience with a gate agent taking the hard line interpretation.

It is the July 10 return date, not the June 25 departure that is pertinent.

A renewed passport would eliminate the concern.

Posted by
8 posts

Thanks for all the good info from everyone. I couldn't find a simple question and answer on the French embassy site like the link to the Swiss site so I called American Airlines and they confirmed at least passport must be valid 90 days from departure date from France. Good advice to check with them. The advice to get a letter from my spouse surprised me. She has taken our son on 3 trips in the past; to Greece and Italy, Galapagos, and France without needing a letter from me.

Posted by
11288 posts

"The advice to get a letter from my spouse surprised me. She has taken our son on 3 trips in the past; to Greece and Italy, Galapagos, and France without needing a letter from me."

This is one of those things that may not be checked. But, if you get a gate agent, or an immigration official in France, who does want to see this letter, you will be glad you had it. Just like insurance, it's better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.