You’ve planned that dream vacation to foreign destination. Grabbed a sweet deal on air plane tickets and snagged a luxury hotel room at a serious discount (peak season). The bags are packed, the mail and newspapers have been put on hold, the parking arrangements have been made and all you have to do is get to the airport. Simple enough, right? Right! So, you arrive at the airport a few hours ahead of your flight time and hand your passport and boarding pass to the agent at the counter. The agent swipes the passport, as per TSA protocol, to verify that your documents are legitimate (and so that Homeland security and the other agencies have a record of your travels) and confirm your travel information. Your luggage is then tagged with the destination information and you are sent along your merry way. One hurdle down.
So, next you pass through the TSA checkpoint. Depending on your status, the air carrier on which you are traveling, and whether or not you’ve paid to enroll in one the global or trusted traveler programs, you either get to do a full strip show for TSA, or go through the expedite line where you do not have to disrobe. Once on the other side of the screening area, you proceed to the boarding area where you wait for the gate agent to call your group number.
Now, here is where things get a little hairy and where your dream vacation can turn into a nightmare. You board the plane and are on your way to mai tais and rum runners. Or maybe Le Tour Eiffel and the Swiss Alps. You arrive at you destination and are denied entry. But how could this be? You passport is valid. Well, in all of your planning, there was one thing you neglected to do. What is that you say? Check the passport requirements for your foreign destination. Yes, you have a valid passport (sort of) which is good for another few months; however, it expires in four months and your destination requires that the expiration date is six months beyond your date of entry in the country. Seriously? Yes, seriously.
So, how was this not flagged when you input your passport information in the air carrier’s online system? Well, the short answer is that air carriers do not have a responsibility to mind your business. The carrier just records the passport data for the person traveling to validate the you are indeed the person who arrives at the airport and do have the proper credentials to travel. The carrier is not keeping up with the entry requirements of each destination.
So, to avoid this heartache and the loss of time, money and memories, make sure you visit the OFFICIAL tourism site for your desired destination to determine their entry requirements. A lot of countries simply require that you have a valid passport, proof of a return ticket, and sufficient funds to cover your stay. However, there are countries that require your passport be valid for more than six months post visit. In addition to visiting the OFFICIAL tourism site for your desired destination, you can also visit state.gov for country specific information and additional links.
Remember- A little research goes a long way.