Graphic labelling passport expiry as an urgent matter

Passport Expiry – Quick & Easy Guide to See if Your Passport is Valid

All the Information You Need to Ensure Your Passport is Valid for Your Trip

The information in this article is up to date as of January 2020

Do you know the rules and regulations about passport expiry and validity? Do you know how to verify a passport is valid?  I learned the hard way about passport validity but you don’t have to!  It is vitally important to know your passport expiration date so that you can travel when you want to or need to.

I’ve done all the research for you for how to check passport validity online to ensure that your passport will be valid for your next travel adventure.

Let’s start learning how to to check if a passport is valid!

The Cautionary Tale

(if you want to skip the back story and go straight to all the important stuff, scroll down the page to Passport Expiry Rules)

I was flying to Copenhagen in July. The flight was in the evening from Vancouver International Airport and I had the whole day to finish packing. I had time for last-minute household chores, and I was looking forward to a leisurely trip to the airport. I was really looking forward to seeing Denmark again and reuniting with relatives.


When I tried to check in for my flight that morning,  the website wouldn’t complete the check-in.  I went to check my passport expiry date and noticed that the expiry date on my passport (expiry date passport)  was one week after I got back.  I thought this was all I needed to do to check if passport is valid so I wasn’t initially worried.

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks.  Hadn’t I read something about a validity of passport check and passport expiry dates?  OMG.  I’m leaving today!  I don’t have time to mess around with my passport!

I Googled to see how to check passport expiry date online and Google soon confirmed my worst fears.  Denmark (and all the Schengen area countries) require that a passport validity date be at least 3 months beyond your departure date!  If only I had known to check passport expiry date earlier!  I didn’t realize earlier that it wasn’t only an expired passport that could derail my travel plans.  I was very glad that I had thought to check passport expiry date online!

Passport Expiry Panic

After a moment of sheer panic, I called Passport Canada to see if it was even possible to renew a passport in a day.  I had very low expectations and was already formulating Plan B.  Plan B involved expensive last-minute ticket changes and familial humiliation.  However, the very kind passport agent assured me it was possible to renew a passport in a day!

Passport Expiration Date:  Light at the End of the Tunnel?

There were many conditions for “urgent” passport renewal.  The conditions were: a passport office that wasn’t too busy that day, new passport photos, an extra fee of $110 (on top of the regular passport renewal fee of $160), and proof of travel.

Passport Expiry photo of passport

I sped out to get new passport photos and then headed directly to the passport office.  I thanked my lucky stars it wasn’t too busy!  The passport agent reassured me that my passport could be renewed that day as long as my references were immediately available to confirm my identity.  I waited an hour for the agent to make the necessary phone calls.  My relief was palpable when the agent instructed me to go to the downtown passport office after 4pm to pick up my new passport!

I can’t even begin to describe how grateful I was that:

  1. My flight was in the evening
  2. I had noticed the date of expiry passport that morning, and
  3. The passport office wasn’t too busy that day.  It could have been so much worse!

Whenever I tell this story to friends, they can’t believe this happened to me!  I’m normally a very organized person.  It just goes to show that passport expiry rules aren’t well known by the average person like me!

Passport Expiry Rules

  1. Don’t try to travel with an expired passport.  Know the passport expiration rules!
  2. Always check passport expiry date before you book your travel.
  3. Check this post to see the specific rules for the countries you are visiting.
  4. Perform a passport validity check for all countries you’re visiting or transiting through

Don’t forget to keep your passport safe while traveling!  Canadian and American passports are among the most powerful in the world and are hot commodities on the black market.

Passport Expiry and Validity by Country

Check to make sure your passport validity meets or exceeds the following requirements:

Passport expiry beyond date of departure from country

ArgentinaBarbadosDomincan Republic
Ireland*United KingdomJamaica
United States*JapanAustralia

*For Ireland, 6 months is recommended, but 1 is usually sufficient.
*United States – beyond date of departure for most countries.  Check the requirements for your country of origin individually

Passport expiry more than 1 month beyond date of departure from country

Costa RicaCubaHong Kong
MacauVietnamSouth Africa*
*South Africa – there are some reports of individual officials requiring 6 months validity.  Use caution.

Passport Expiry more than 3 months beyond date of departure from country


Schengen Countries – Passport expiry 3 months beyond date of departure from Schengen area

AustriaBelgiumCzech Republic
Important note:  As long as you meet Schengen area entry requirements, foreigners can travel freely between Schengen area countries without having to go through border controls.  A visa is not required in Schengen area countries if your stay does not exceed 90 days in any 180-day period.   If you plan to stay longer than 90 days, contact the high commission or embassy of the country you wish to stay and obtain the appropriate visa.  Just make sure you know which countries require 3 months of passport validity.

Need to know where to stay when you’re visiting Stockholm?  Check out this great post on Stockholm hotels!

Passport expiry 6 months beyond date of entry into country


Passport expiry 6 months beyond date of departure from country

Antigua & BarbudaBelizeBhutan
BrazilBritish Virgin IslandsChina
Sri LankaThailandTurkey (from date of visa issuance)
UkraineUnited Arab EmiratesGuatemala
*For British & US Nationals to enter Peru, a passport valid for the duration of the stay is required. Canadian and Australian authorities recommend passport validity of 6 months from date of departure from Peru.

If you don’t find a country in these lists and are wondering which countries require 6 months of passport validity, take a conservative stance and assume a requirement of 6 months passport validity beyond date of departure from country.

urgent passport validity issue

How Long does it Take to Get a Passport – Normal Circumstances

In Canada, getting a passport through the normal application process takes 10 days if done in person at a passport office.  If you apply by mail, expect it to take 20 business days.

In the United States, it takes four to six weeks for a US passport application to be processed.  If you meet passport requirements and pay the normal application price of $145, passport processing will be considered “routine”.  If you need quicker passport renewal, you have the option of paying an extra $60 for expedited processing.

Urgent Passport Renewal in Canada

Passport Canada states that it can provide an even more expedited passport processing service than I experienced.  According to their website if your passport expiry check reveals that you need a passport book over the weekend or on a statutory holiday, you can call 1-800-567-6868.  This is only for emergencies and only if you have to travel over that weekend or holiday.

Passport Canada charges a hefty fee for urgent passport renewal – $335 in addition to the regular valid passport service fee of $160 for a ten year passport.

If you are a Canadian abroad and need passport services, you should go to the nearest Canadian Consular office, and the consular officer will decide if you qualify for urgent service.

Urgent Passport Renewal in the USA

The US Department of State will expedite passport applications in “life-or-death” emergencies.  Life-or-death is defined as serious illnesses, injuries or deaths in your immediate family that require travel outside the US within 3 business days.  You must provide the usual application documentation as well as proof of the life-or-death emergency.  Call 1-877-487-2778 during business hours or 202-647-4000 after business hours to make an appointment.

If your passport is beyond the passport date of expiry and you need a passport renewal in less than 2-3 weeks and have urgent international travel plans, the US Department of State provides expedited service.  You need to make an appointment at a passport agency or center , and bring proof of travel.

If you’re an American abroad and your passport validation check revealed that you need passport services, contact a United States consulate abroad.

As a general rule, I recommend renewing your passport when the expiry date of passport is in 9 months or less.

Travel Visas for Canadians & Americans

travel visa example

Canadian and American passports are among the most powerful passports in the world.  For the most part, Canadians and Americans can travel anywhere in the world without worrying about visa restrictions as long as the passport date check is clear. ranks passports by country by their total visa-free zone.  Canada has a passport power rank of 5, enabling visits to 114 countries visa-free.  An American passport has a power rank of 3, with the ability to visit 116 countries visa-free.  Henley & Partners also ranks passports by country in a similar manner.  It really pays to maintain the 6 month passport validity rule for Canadians and Americans!

However, a number of countries do require travel visas from Canadians and Americans when entering or transiting through.

BurundiCameroonCentral African Republic*
ChadChinaRepublic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the CongoCuba (tourism card)Equatorial Guinea*
North Korea*LiberiaLibya
Saudi ArabiaSierra LeoneSouth Sudan

*Central African Republic and Equatorial Guinea do not require travel visas from Americans
*Gambia does not not require travel visas from Canadians
*North Korean travel is restricted for American travelers, who must obtain a special passport validation from the US federal government before travel.

There are also a number of countries that require an eVisa (a visa application that can be completed in advance online). Other countries require a visa on arrival.  I recommend carrying sufficient local currency to pay any fees required for arrival visa fees. Some countries do not accept credit cards.  There may be length of stay restrictions or entry requirements on your travel as well.  Requirements and conditions change regularly; please confirm all conditions when planning your trip.

This guide is accurate as of the date of publication.  I’ll update this guide every 6 months.  As a cautious traveler, I strongly urge you to ensure that your passport meets or exceeds all entry requirements.   Personally, I always schedule my passport renewal time to ensure my passport is valid for at least 6 months from my departure from any country.    I learned my lesson!

Passport Expiration Date:  Hard and Fast Rules to Follow

  1. ALWAYS do a passport expiry date check when you’re first thinking about booking travel.
  2. How to check passport validity:  the date your passport expired will be usually be on the identification page of your passport.  Don’t let 6 months pass before the expiry date on passport before re-applying
  3. Passport Expiry Date Check Online:  If you’re asking yourself how to check if my pasport is valid online, be ware that it may not be possible to check passport number and expiry date online.  This kind of individualized service isn’t available in Canada and the United States.  To determine if you can check passport validity online, go to your countries’ passport website.

I hope I’ve been able to answer all your questions about how to check if your passport is valid, how to check validity of passport, and how to know the date of expiry of your passport.

If you need ways to pay for all the travel you’ll be doing with your passport that won’t expire, check out Mitch’s huge list of ways to make money traveling here!

Don’t forget to get your travel medical insurance before your trip, especially if you’re a Canadian and especially a Canadian senior!

Do you have any questions about passport validity?  Do you have an embarrassing passport expiry story to share?  Tell me all about it below!

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2 thoughts on “Passport Expiry – Quick & Easy Guide to See if Your Passport is Valid

  1. this is SO super useful – you’d think it’d be such a given, but happens to the best of us (I had an ‘expired passport’ situation literally 6 months ago and it was way too much drama to kick off a holiday??) Wish I came across this article sooner!

    1. Thanks Shafinah 🙂 My own expiring passport story is what prompted me to write this, as I thought I couldn’t possibly be the only one this had happened to. Glad you found it useful!

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