Have you planned the trip of a lifetime? Bags ready at the front door, airport outfit bought, snacks packed, passport in your hand. Can you imagine the horror on your face when you open your passport to giggle at your picture, only to realize it’s expired?
Absolute nightmare. As most people who have recently applied for a passport know, waiting times are long.
So, can you travel with an expired passport?
The simple answer is no. In fact, in recent years, the US introduced a new law that no American could enter on an expired passport. In fact, any American planning to travel on an expired passport should immediately contact the nearest US embassy to apply for a new one.
So let’s examine some of your options if you have an expired passport.
If you are flying overseas, think of your trip as canceled. There’s no point in showing up at the airport with an expired passport, as you will be refused to board anyway. You just have to cut your losses. If you cannot renew your passport for a trip abroad, rebook your flight if possible. You can do this by calling the airline and giving them the sob story of what’s happened.
Is It Possible to Travel With An Expired Passport Under Any Circumstances at All?
The quick and simple answer is ‘no,’ especially if you are leaving the country. Many countries with visa policies don’t actually allow travelers whose passports will expire in 6 months!
For example, Americans arriving in Mexico are given a visa-exempt six-month stamp. This means you need to have six months left on your passport at a minimum, as you will have to travel back to the US with that passport. Plus, an expired passport is no longer a valid form of identification. Although, one could argue that two weeks ago, you could use it, and now it’s invalid. That’s just the way it is.
And for domestic travel?
Nope, the same goes for a domestic flight, although you don’t need a passport to travel domestically in the USA. You only need a form of identification such as a passport card, state-issued driver’s license, or a US military card.
So, as you can see, it’s quite tough to answer when you can travel and for how long before your passport expires. Depending on where you visit, some countries require at least six months. Others require 28 days after departing the country, and some countries only require your passport validity until the day you plan to leave.
However, traveling is meant to be fun. If you travel for business, you want it to be smooth sailing. So, experts advise renewing your passport when only six months are left. This means you don’t have to worry about any issues arising or stalling your trip.
When Will My Passport Expire?
Generally, most countries issue passports for their citizens that last between five and ten years. This means you don’t have to worry about renewing your passport yearly. You just have to keep it in mind when it expires. It’s really easy to check this as your passport expiry date is on the main photo page of your passport.
Can You Book a Flight with An Expired Passport?
In fact, yes, you can. It might seem crazy, but airlines will not halt their bookings just because your passport isn’t up to date. After all, many people book their trip months, even years, in advance. That means you definitely have time to renew your passport.
Most airlines don’t ask for any passport information until you decide to check in online. However, if you’re not one for checking in online in advance, you must check your passport at least a month before your trip.
What Should I do if I Realize My Passport Has Expired at the Last Minute?
If you’ve realized last minute that your passport has expired, you should contact the passport issuing authority in your country. You may be entitled to an emergency passport if you’re lucky and the travel date isn’t too close.
What is An Emergency Passport?
An emergency passport is limited to one year or less. Unfortunately, not all countries will allow entry on an emergency passport, so you must check with your final destination. You can check here.
But before you get too excited…
The embassy or consulate can only issue emergency passports in a very narrow range of situations. Normal passports have expiration dates and cannot be extended. Also, to apply, you must visit the Embassy or Consulate in person during regular business hours. Emergency passports can typically be obtained the same day if you and the consulate believe you meet the requirements.
Required Documents for An Emergency Passport
You’ll need all the same paperwork for an emergency passport as you need for a normal passport application.
Can You Travel With an Expired Passport to Mexico or Canada?
Previously you could travel to Canada and Mexico without a passport, but the flight world changed drastically due to the devastating effects of 9/11. A valid passport is now necessary to fly to either country.
However, if you don’t have a passport, you could travel to Mexico or Canada by land or sea instead. These requirements are a little more lenient. You can use any of the following documents to travel by land and sea:
- Passport book
- A passport card
- SENTRI, NEXUS, or FAST card
- A driver’s license
But if you’re going to Mexico specifically, double-check before you go by land if your border crossing accepts only a driver’s license.
Children under the age of 16 need to bring a birth certificate with them or some sort of proof of citizenship. It should be noted, though, an expired passport is not even worth bringing with you. As mentioned, it’s no longer proof of identification. This includes kids or anyone.
It’s strictly against the law for officials to accept an expired passport.
Upcoming ID Requirements
It must be noted that in the coming years, things will be changing in the US. Specifically for domestic flights. You will soon be required to carry something called a REAL ID. The REAL ID has the star on top of your photo identification.
This can be your driver’s license, enhanced driver’s license, or any ID that meets the requirements of the REAL ID.
How to keep updated on this?
You can find out more about the REAL ID and apply for one on the Department of Homeland Securities website. You can also renew or ask questions about your driver’s license to the DMV, to ensure it is right.
Plus, if you already have a passport, it’s advisable to start using it for domestic routes in the future, as it’s the easiest to use. A passport card is also ok.
Attempting to Travel on an Expired Passport At The Airport
Don’t go. Don’t waste time. Instead, try to call the airline before your flight departs, request a full refund or reschedule your flight for another time. If, by chance, they let you board the flight, don’t bother. When you get to the other side, your passport will likely be flagged as expired. And you’ll be put on a flight straight back to the US. Seriously. Don’t waste your time.
Use another form of identification such as a driver’s license, passport card, or a Trusted Travel Card.
Got Any Other Passport Queries?
We are here for you! Maybe you now need passport photos in a hurry and want to know, Does Costco Take Passport Photos, Does CVS Take Passport Photos, or Does Walmart Take Passport Photos? Then in the worst-case scenario, What Happens if Your Passport Photo Gets Rejected, and how can you avoid that?
Or perhaps you need further confirmation about How Long Are Passports Good For and Do Babies Need Passports? We can also answer the question, Can A Felon Get A Passport, and How Do You Cancel a USPS Passport Appointment?
Just search our site for any travel or passport query you might have in 2023!
Right, back to today’s passport problem guide…
As should be clear to you now, attempting to travel with an expired passport is pretty pointless. As it’s been noted above, we know that in all instances, an expired passport is also no longer a valid form of identification.
So, if you realize on the day you set off on vacation that your passport is expired, you’d be better off getting on the phone with the airline to haggle some money back or reschedule your tip.
If you’re flying domestically, however, you have a better chance to still make your trip because you can use another form of ID like a driver’s license or a passport card. But the best thing to do is take note of when your passport will expire or, even better, set a notification on your phone. Then make it a set rule for yourself to always renew passports at least six months before they expire.
Good luck with your future travels!