Is “passport check” on your holiday travel to-do list? It should be! Whether you are jetting off to ski the Alps or Canadian Rockies, heading to the Caribbean for some sun, or visiting relatives overseas, you will need a passport. Take the time now to make sure your passport is ready for travel.
Your very first step will be to get your passport out. This in itself is an important passport check! Too many people discover at the last moment that they can’t find their passport.
Do you have your passport in hand? Great! Let’s get started.
Passport Check 1: When will your passport expire?
Start your passport check on the page with your photo. Check the expiration date of your passport. You’ll want to make sure it isn’t expired already, of course! But how much validity does it have left? Some countries want you to have a minimum of six months validity on your passport. This is known as the “six month rule.” There are also countries that have different passport validity requirements. For instance, most of the countries in Europe require that your passport be valid for at least three months. If your passport is expiring in the next few months, check to see if your destination requires you to have a certain minimum validity.
Passport Check 2: Is your passport signed?
While you are on the page with your photo, check and make sure your passport is signed. Your passport should be signed to be fully valid for travel. If it isn’t signed, use blue or black ink and sign it with your full name as printed in your passport.
Checking your child’s passport? Kids need their passports to be signed, too. If your child is too young to sign for herself, you can sign for her. Sign both her name and your name, such as “Amelia Jane Smith by John Robert Smith, father.”
Passport Check 3: Is your passport in good condition?
A worn-out or damaged passport doesn’t just look bad. It could be reason for you to be denied boarding of your flight, or turned away from your destination! Do a quick passport check to make sure your passport is in good shape. Inspect your passport closely and look for damage like:
- A loose or detached cover
- Torn or cut pages
- Water damage
- Any unauthorized marking
Passport Check 4: Does your passport have blank pages?
You will need to have at least one blank page marked “visas.” This will be used for your entry and exit stamps. Some countries require you to have more than one blank page for every visit.
Double check to make sure your blank pages say “visas.” The pages at the back of your passport are for US State Department use only.
Passport Check 5: Is this your passport?
Before you head out the door, it’s time for one last passport check. Open up your passport and make sure that the passport you grabbed is yours! Everyone’s passport looks the same on the outside. It would be easy enough to mix things up and head to the airport with your son’s passport instead of your own.
Don’t laugh, it happens more often than you think. There have been quite a few news stories of British travelers who have flown using the wrong passport, including at least two men who flew to Germany using their girlfriend’s passport instead of their own!