Passports: What you need to know


_____________________My son, waiting to board our plane to Seoul.

By Jae-Ha Kim
September 16, 2016

✈ This is the time of year many people start planning their winter vacations. If you want to travel out of the country, it’s important to have a valid passport. But, what many people don’t realize is that depending on which country you’d like to visit, your passport may not be “valid.”

Confused? I hear you.

Here are a few examples. For instance, if a U.S. citizen would like to leave for a two-week trip overseas on Dec. 1, 2016 — and their passport’s expiration date is March 1, 2017 — these are some places they can (and cannot) visit:

1) South Korea requires that the passport must be valid at time of entry, so you are in like flint! Note: They collect biometric data (digital photo and fingerprints) of foreign visitors at ports of entry. I had sliced my finger pretty badly prior to a recent trip and ripping the bandage off for the fingerprint imaging was PAINFUL!

2) Canada would welcome you with open arms.

3) Bahamas. Have fun! Your passport just needs to be valid at the time of entry.

4) French Polynesia (Tahiti/Bora Bora). You will need to renew your passport before you can go. 🙁 French Polynesia requires that the passport is valid for at least three months beyond the planned departure from its country.

5) France. You would miss the cut-off by just a few weeks, since passports must be valid for at least three months beyond your planned date of departure from the Schengen area.

6) Germany. You would be turned away at the U.S. airport, because Germany requires that the passport is valid for at least six months beyond the planned date of departure.

My general rule of thumb is to renew my family members’ passports at least 6 months prior to the expiration date. If you wear glasses, take photos without wearing them. As November 1st, 2016, if you send in photos with your spectacles on, your application will be returned.

Also, remember: Children under 16 need new passports every five years and this has to be done in person. The rest of us can keep our passports for 10 years and renew via mail.

On the subject of kids … If you need to renew a passport for your adopted child, you do not need to send in their Certificate of Citizenship as proof of citizenship. Their old, unexpired U.S. passport (among other things) will work just fine. Sometimes, the clerks handling passport renewal applications are unaware of this and will try to convince you otherwise. Show them this link from (or have it printed out as proof).

For more information about passport requirements for various countries, check out U.S. Passports & International Travel‘s website..


© 2016 JAE-HA KIM | All Rights Reserved

Comments (2)

  1. Mysteries of Life says:

    then i definitely shouldn’t wear those glasses with the fake nose

  2. Teresa Wyllychuk Golat says:

    In Canada we haven’t been able to wear glasses for many years now, I had to powder my husband and my face because we can’t have a shine! Lol

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