A must-read for frequent travelers.

By Perri Ormont Blumberg
August 17, 2018
Credit: Tuan Tran/Getty Images

Getting excited for a trip to Europe? You may want to check your passport.

As a cautionary tale posted yesterday on Business Insider explained, it's not enough to have a passport that is valid through the duration of your travels, even if it expires a day, a week, or a month after. In fact, many European countries require visitors' passports to continue to be valid for at least 90 days and up to six months after your arrival to the country. For author Matt Schulz, this oversight of their son's passport expiration date resulted in his family trip to Spain being cancelled.

To make sure this doesn't happen to you, follow the guidelines on the U.S. Department of State's website, travel.state.gov.

  • Have at least six-month's validity remaining on your passport whenever you travel abroad.
  • Check the expiration date on your passport carefully before traveling to Europe – especially children's passports, which are valid five years, not 10 years like those issued to U.S. citizens aged 16 and older.

This policy is a result of a treaty called the Schengen Agreement, an area of Europe which includes 26 European countries. The Department of State also advises that tourists carry their passports when traveling to another country within the Schengen area. Even if there is no border check at that time, border controls can be initiated again without advance notice.

Worth noting: Some countries require that passports be valid for three months beyond your departure date and others the full six months. For a detail breakdown of passport validity around the world, check out The Points Guy's Guide here.